SCOTLAND’s walking charity and public health minister have jointly called on employers to empower staff to take daily walks within guidelines to boost physical and mental wellbeing.
With lockdown rules tightening and fewer reasons to leave the house, Paths for All believe regular exercise has never been more important to maintain both physical and mental wellbeing, especially for those working from home.
A study conducted by University College London has reported two-fifths of people say they are doing less exercise now than during the first lockdown back in March, with individuals stating they have found this period tougher than ever before.
Now, the charity and new Public Health Minister Mairi Gougeon are asking employers to look at ways to enable their staff to take screen breaks, be more active and enjoy getting outdoors more during the working day.
The charity offers bespoke accreditation and challenges tailored to an organisations requirement to help get their workforce moving. The Walk at Work Award and Step Count Challenge both look to make walking fun and interactive by virtually connecting colleagues.
Under current restrictions, outdoor exercise is permitted, but individuals must walk alone, with their household, or can meet one other person from another household while distancing. Exercise should be planned to avoid busy areas.
Minister for Public Health and Sport Mairi Gougeon said:
“The current restrictions, on top of shorter days and poor weather are all having an impact on our wellbeing at the moment. But taking a break from work to get some fresh air and get moving is one of the best ways to boost your mood, and keep fit.
“Right now it’s more important than ever to find time to focus on your health and wellbeing, and I’d encourage all employers to get involved and do what they can to support people. There are lots of creative ways to encourage home workers to stay physically active, such as introducing fun challenges or sharing resources.”
Firms are being encouraged to look into dedicated screen-free time initiatives such as a fake commute, whereby teams are encouraged to take exercise in the middle of the day in order to get their steps up throughout the working day.
Research has shown that physical activity helps to reduce anxiety and depression, and alleviate negative moods whilst improving self-esteem and cognitive function, with those who are active during their working day deemed as more productive.
Ian Findlay CBE, Chief Officer at Paths for All, said:
“We must do what we can to keep Scotland moving, safely and responsibly, throughout this lockdown, to ward off potential mental and physical health crises.
“Walking helps boosts our mood, our fitness, our productivity and our relationships. At this moment in time, it’s a chance to take stock and appreciate our local communities’ walking routes.
“With most of the country working from home and exercise being one of the few essential reasons for leaving your home, it is the perfect time to get into walking to look after our physical, mental and social health.”
The Walk At Work Award is aimed to reverse the trend of inactive workplaces and the accreditation supports businesses in tackling issues of staff wellbeing and corporate carbon footprint while enhancing productivity.
Employers receive one-to-one support on how to create a walking culture at work as well as examples of best practice and where to find extra help and resources
The Step Count Challenge is made up of teams of five and has one simple aim of encouraging people to walk more to feel happier and healthier, with participants having access to leader boards, goal setting and team chat to keep them motivated and connected.
Businesses can register a team of five for just £30 – and can customise their own challenges with tailored branding and personalised messaging.
Paths for All believes regular walking is key to leading a happy and healthy life, and it’s even more important for people to continue enjoying short, local walks where it is safe and appropriate to do so with to the huge array of associated benefits.
Paths for All’s focus is clear: it wants to get Scotland walking: everyone, every day, everywhere.
For more information on Paths for All, please visit: https://www.pathsforall.org.uk