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Industry study shows: UK & US employees walk towards improved health and productivity with the Global Corporate Challenge

16 February 2012
Professor Susan Cartwright

A new industry study has shown that workplace-supported, low-impact daily physical activity can significantly boost employees’ resilience and performance to deliver healthy returns for both employee and employer alike.

The findings come from The Multi-Business Study into the Effect of Low Impact Physical Activity on Employee Health and Wellbeing 2011, a combined Foundation for Chronic Disease Prevention in the Workplace (FCDP) and Lancaster University Centre of Organizational Health & Wellbeing  study into the physical and psychological impact of leading corporate health program - Global Corporate Challenge® (GCC) - on 752 UK and US-based employees (of varying age, gender, health and base fitness level).

“In the current economic and political climate, business survival more than ever will depend upon having an engaged, fit and resilient workforce” declared FCDP Research Director, Dr David Batman.

“Businesses are acknowledging the importance of investment in employee health and wellbeing, both physically and psychologically, however a lack of knowledge and moreover evidentiary proof presents a real barrier. Our study aimed to remedy this evidence gap and provide a clinical evaluation of workplace wellness in action – specifically, the impact of the Global Corporate Challenge initiative on employee wellbeing and performance” said Dr Batman.

Sourced from six leading organisations based in the UK and US (Tesco plc, Hays Recruitment Services, Kraft Foods UK, Tyco Fire Products and Wood Group), study subjects were provided pedometers and challenged to walk 10,000 steps per day* over GCC’s 16 week virtual walk around the world. Self-reported questionnaires and on-site biometric screening recorded their physical activity levels, (physical and psychological) health and performance indicators before and after GCC participation, with ultimate analysis delivering a compelling case for getting workers walking.

Specifically, GCC’s low-impact employee wellness program facilitated:

·         Increased physical activity levels

o    47% increase in employees achieving 7,500+ steps per day

o    40% increase in employees’ achieving 10,000+ steps per day

 

·         Improved physical condition

o    62% achieved waistline circumference reduction (5.2cm/2.05” recorded average)

o    58% achieved weight loss (2.8kg or 6lb 2.76oz recorded average)

o    52% achieved a reduction in body fat (10% on average).

o    48% achieved a reduction in Body Mass Index (BMI)

 

·         Improved self-esteem:

o    52% reduction in employees reporting feelings of worthlessness

o    35% increase in employees reporting self-confidence

o    28% reduction in employees reporting feelings of unhappiness and depression

 

·         Reduced Stress Levels:

o    17% reduction in employees reporting lost sleep over worry

o    12-15% reduction in reported stress levels across a spectrum of personal and professional factors

 

·         Improved Work Performance

o    17% increase in employees reporting optimum productivity levels

o    12% increase in employees reporting excellent concentration levels

 

In boosting the physical, emotional and mental condition of employees, GCC delivered immediate and measurable performance benefits to employers across improved employee morale, engagement and productivity. Furthermore, study data indicates adoption of the more active lifestyle habits by employees after GCC conclusion, suggesting sustained return, as well as an anticipated reduction in absenteeism and sick leave taken, and decline in health care pensions and payouts over the long term.  

“This study demonstrates the universal benefits of increased physical activity to individuals and their employers” said Lancaster University’s Professor Susan Cartwright of the findings.

“Walking has the advantage of other forms of physical activity in that it is easy to incorporate into one’s daily routine – and hence this makes it more sustainable.” 

 As such, the study findings endorse the considerable potential of an effective low-impact, workplace wellness initiative to deliver immediate and sustained bottom-line benefits to both employee and employer.  More specifically, the proven power of the Global Corporate Challenge to do so.

“The results of our 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. The benefits to employer are evident in the form of a more engaged and higher-performing workforce.” concluded Dr. Batman.

“Moreover, the results clearly show that investment in the Global Corporate Challenge will lead to marked increase in employee performance and a significant impact on business performance” he said.

 

GLOBAL CORPORATE CHALLENGE®

The Global Corporate Challenge® (GCC) is the world’s largest and most exciting corporate health initiative delivering scientifically proven results for over 2,500 of the world’s leading organisations globally. These results include improved employee physical and mental health, enhanced productivity, reduced absenteeism and a stronger culture of resilience.

 

Starting in May each year, the GCC takes participants on a 16 week virtual walking journey around the world and engages and supports them to become more active by aiming to take 10,000 steps a day – three times more than the average office worker walks in a day.  Accessible to every staff member regardless of location, age or base fitness level, the GCC’s success is its science­­-based approach that creates genuine, long term behavioural change.

 

In 2012, over 180,000 participants will benefit from the GCC as both workers and organisations discover just how much fun getting more active can be.

 

To learn more about Global Corporate Challenge® please visit gettheworldmoving.com

 

 

Image Professor Susan Cartwright