Lancaster University study shows outstanding benefits of exercise to employees
A study by Lancaster University’s Centre of Organizational Health & Wellbeing into the effects of exercise on Nestlé UK employees has shown that it results in outstanding physical and psychological benefits to the individual and to the employer.
1800 Nestle UK employees (36% of its UK workforce) took part in the 2009 Global Corporate Challenge, Nestle UK’s largest ever corporate health initiative. Researchers studying a representative sample of 260 Nestlé employees found that participants reported an increase in energy levels, better sleep, increased concentration and productivity when asked a series of psychological indicators about their feelings in the workplace. A health screening study of the same 260 employees also reported significant health benefits including:
- 59% of employees lost weight of which the average weight loss was 2.2kg
37% reduced their cholesterol
51% had a reduced body fat percentage at the end of the programme versus the start
The GCC challenges teams of seven to each walk 10,000 steps a day, recording their individual step counts, which are then tallied into a daily team total and plotted on the GCC website to complete a virtual walk around the world.
The average Nestlé employee increased the amount they walked to over 12,850 steps per day for the 125 days of the programme, which equates to 8.2km, more than four times the physical activity of the typical UK employee who walks on average 3,000 steps a day.
An evaluation of participants’ psychological health, conducted by Lancaster University, also assessed the impact of participation in the GCC on an employee’s mental wellbeing alongside the physical health indicators. When asked a series of questions about their mental health, before and after participation, employees reported an overall improvement in:
· Concentration levels
· Ability to make better decisions in the work place
· Enjoyment of day to day activities
· Self Confidence
Overall they felt they were able overcome their daily difficulties more effectively and felt less under strain as a result of participating in the 125 day programme, indicating walking can have a positive influence on stress within an organisation.
Professor Susan Cartwright from the Centre for Organizational Health & Wellbeing at Lancaster University who conducted the independent psychological research said: “ Data collected before and after completion of the Challenge showed that participants were more productive at work and had experienced significant improvements in their overall health. Participants were more decisive, better able to concentrate and more able to face up to problems. In addition, participants were happier, more confident and generally felt better about themselves at the end of the Challenge. The results show that increased physical activity can produce both individual and business benefits."
Dr David Batman, Head of Employee Wellness and Consultant Occupational Health Physician to Nestlé UK commented; “Businesses in the UK are acknowledging the importance of investment in employee health and wellbeing, both physically and psychologically. The results of this joint research with Lancaster University provides the data to support that getting employees more physically active can not only have a dramatic impact on an individual’s physical health, but also has the potential to boost productivity. Rest assured Nestlé UK will be supporting the GCC but also increasing their participation in the GCC 2010.”