No sitting down on the job: how workplaces can promote healthy active living

Conference Board of Canada report says it's time to make physical activity expected and accepted at work.

TORONTO, Dec. 1, 2015 /CNW/ - Busy schedules, looming deadlines - the demands of today's workplace can make it challenging for employees to prioritize a healthy, active lifestyle, but it doesn't have to be that way.  A new report, Moving Ahead: Workplace Interventions to Reduce Physical Inactivity and Sedentary Behaviour,  produced by The Conference Board of Canada's Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care and issued with ParticipACTION, provides a model for how Canadian employers can help employees change their behaviour about physical activity.

"With more than half of Canadians spending at least one third of their waking hours at work, the workplace is an ideal and important setting for health promotion.  Corporate wellness initiatives must fit with the organizational culture so that employees are more likely to participate," said Louis Thériault, Vice-President, Public Policy, The Conference Board of Canada.

In addition, inactive employees must decide to change their behaviours and participate, which is a challenge in most organizations. Faced with competing priorities, employees often feel that they cannot prioritize their health.

"Our bodies' natural desires to move are affected by our information-age sedentary jobs, the ever-present lure of screens and our love affair with the car. The challenge is not just to provide opportunities to be more active, but to shift Canadian cultural norms so that sitting less and moving more are expected and accepted at work," said Elio Antunes, President and CEO, ParticipACTION.

The Moving Ahead: Workplace Interventions to Reduce Physical Inactivity and Sedentary Behaviour report identifies two broad types of initiatives that employers can implement in their workplaces to effect change.

  1. Initiatives intended for the entire employee population such as awareness campaigns, education programs, and instructor-led activity sessions
  2. Initiatives targeting the particular needs of specific, high-risk employees like health coaching or counselling and targeted activity sessions led by an instructor

The report also highlights several organizations that have successfully put these types of initiatives into practice.

  • Standard Life hopes to integrate its health and wellness initiatives with health and absence management. It offered a Health Risk Assessment (HRA) to its employees to determine the health risk factors that were predominant in the employee population.
  • Chevron Canada has established wellness initiatives to improve and encourage healthy, active lifestyles at its Calgary headquarters. It includes on-site lifestyle centre, a "Fit-Bit" that tracks physical activity, twice-a-day Fit Breaks, ergonomic software to count key and mouse strokes, and a free health screening assessments by a third party provider. Chevron Canada has targeted strategies to promote healthy lifestyles at other locations.
  • RBC has developed a wellness communication strategy that includes multiple online platforms and grassroots-based programs led by local "Wellness Champions". To encourage participation in its wellness initiatives and reward healthy behaviours, RBC provides "wellness credits" for employees participating in these programs. RBC will present more about its program at the Conference Board conference, Healthy Canada: Financial Models and Fiscal Incentives in Health and Health Care, being held on December 1, 2015 in Toronto.

You can check out the Conference Board's Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Health Meter to find out where your physical activity and sedentary behaviours rate in one of four categories.

About the Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care and its Moving Ahead Research
The Conference Board of Canada's Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care (CASHC) research series Moving Ahead: Healthy Active Living in Canada will comprise several research briefings that aim to identify cost-effective, scalable and sustainable interventions to promote and improve healthy active living. The goal of this work is to fill the gaps in knowledge and practice, and to engage government, employers, and all Canadians in working toward a culture of healthy active living.

About ParticipACTION
ParticipACTION is a national non-profit organization that helps Canadians sit less and move more. Originally established in 1971, ParticipACTION works with its partners, which include sport, physical activity, recreation organizations, government and corporate sponsors, to make physical activity a vital part of everyday life. ParticipACTION is generously supported by the Government of Canada. For more information, please visit www.participaction.com.

For those interested in broadcast-quality interviews for your station, network, or online site, The Conference Board of Canada now has a studio capable of double-ender interviews (line fees apply), or we can send you pre-taped clips upon request.

If you would like to be removed from our distribution list, please e-mail corpcomm@conferenceboard.ca.

 

SOURCE Conference Board of Canada

For further information: Yvonne Squires, Media Relations, The Conference Board of Canada, W: 613- 526-3090 ext. 221, corpcomm@conferenceboard.ca; Katherine Janson, ParticipACTION, W: 416-913-1471, M: 647.717.8674, kjanson@participACTION.com; Meaghan Beech, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, W: 416-413-4650, M: 647.463.4467, meaghan.beech@hkstrategies.ca


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