Initiative to help St Helens businesses get active

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A new initiative is set to help businesses in St Helens improve the health and wellbeing of their staff and tackle issues caused by inactivity.

Some 20 million UK adults are now classified as physically inactive. In addition to costing the NHS more than £1.2 billion per year it’s a statistic causing major issues for UK businesses.

Productivity loss and absences related to poor health and wellbeing equate to an annual bill of over £37bn.

But businesses in St Helens are being given the opportunity to buck the trend with a new ‘wearables’ scheme - actilife – which is designed to help people become more active, better manage their weight and start moving more in their daily lives.

Developed by charitable trust and not for profit social enterprise company Life Leisure, the programme combines wearables, an online interactive programme and remote coaching.

Participants use a fitness tracker or phone app to record their physical activity throughout the day as they go about their work. The tracker syncs with an online portal that enables individuals to monitor their progress. A fitness coach is also able to access results via the online platform and give tailored advice and support.

Businesses adopting actilife can set their own workplace challenges, either for staff to take part in as individuals, teams or business-wide, which can be anything from taking the highest number of average monthly steps to collectively climbing a (virtual) mountain.

Michelle Childs, health and physical activity lead at Life Leisure, said: “Office life can be extremely sedentary. In fact, recent research suggests workers are likely to spend over five years sat at their desk over a lifetime. Coupled with the fact people often struggle to fit in fitness at home, that’s a big problem.

“With actilife, we wanted to develop a solution that businesses could adopt that would help encourage active habits in a fun and engaging way that would also allow individuals to set their own pace. Employees can set their own personal activity challenges, but also enjoy taking part in group activities with colleagues.”

In addition to boosting productivity and reducing poor health-related absences, improving health and wellbeing in the workplace has also been shown to have other significant benefits for businesses.

According to the British Heart Foundation, an employer who actively promotes wellbeing in the workplace is eight times more likely to have employees fully engaged in their work, have happier staff and improve retention rates.

Initially piloted in Stockport, actilife is now rolling out across the UK. One of the first workplaces to see the benefit of adopting on the programme was chartered accountancy firm Booth Ainsworth.

Gary Cook, partner and head of legal sector at Booth Ainsworth, said: “Having a happy, healthy workforce is very important to us so we are always on the lookout out for ways to help our employees, which is why actilife really appealed.

“We signed up in May with 26 members of staff taking part. Since then we’ve taken over 29,543,018 steps and covered 13,347 miles, which is the equivalent of walking the Great Wall of China twice! We’ve definitely noticed the impact of having a more active team.”

Any businesses interested in finding out more about actilife should contact Michelle Childs at Life Leisure on 0161 482 0900 or by emailing michelle.childs@lifeleisure.net