Driven to Inactivity

We hear it all the time. Health, a lack of physical activity and the potential cost to the NHS. How do we become more physically active as a nation and do Employers have a responsibility?

For example, Sit Down – a supplier of stand up desks, and with arguably a vested interest in this area has gone a step further and introduced walking breaks into employment contracts. walking contracts

Is the sit down culture of our workforce directly attributed to obesity and all of the nasty associated conditions and diseases it causes? Well what better example than the bus industry, which I had the pleasure of learning about at the NEC Birmingham Euro bus Expo recently.

Whilst my visit was to make bus operators and manufacturers aware of my strongman services to business, particularly pulling buses with England’s strongest men for marketing purposes the conversation took a remarkable twist.

Speaking to a bus driver seat manufacturer I became aware of the challenge for designers to manufacture seats capable of sitting comfortably up to 30 stone in weight bus drivers.

As I run health and wellbeing services for business I quickly changed hats and delved further. The gentlemen from Be Ge seating informed me that due to limited space in a bus cabin designing seats to accommodate larger drivers was a particular challenge.

He also went on to address industry concerns around overweight drivers and the potential for unfit drivers to become ill at the wheel whilst responsible for a bus full of passengers. This isn’t saying all bus drivers are unfit of course, but just an observation of a pattern developing in the bus industry.

After reflecting on my conversations I thought the job gave a classic example of how inactivity at work has a profound impact on our health. Many of us are in jobs where we are free to move about, but still choose not to take the ‘active’ break. Instead we sit at a desk working and then stay sat down for breaks. Pretty much like a bus driver.

Bus drivers arguably don’t have a choice, although I am sure there are operators out there who have introduced working practices to address this. If there are please email me at and share your thoughts with me, I would love to hear about best practice in the industry.

Back to the point. So the overwhelming evidence suggests that our workplace environment and job role has a direct impact on our health. We all should know that by now. A bus driver may typify this assumption perfectly.

The solution is a difficult one. For the bus industry maybe a seat that is designed with some sort of resistance band integrated? May be an adaptation of the below. More of a gimmick than anything but may be a start.

Or an employee health and wellbeing strategy to make bus drivers aware of the importance to move more and healthy eating advice that is specific to job roles.

For instance a US study in 2013 concluded that bus drivers had a 1 in 3 chance of becoming obese. US Study fat bus drivers

In another twist first bus in Bristol in 2010 challenged 11 drivers to lose over 300 kg in body fat as part of a company sponsored health and wellbeing programme. So some operators are becoming proactive in addressing the issue.

So the conclusion is we must as a Nation provide opportunities to move more across all sectors. It cannot be the sole responsibility of the NHS, employers offer an ideal position to help address their employees health.

I am not labelling the bus industry bad in terms of a job, but rather as an example of where a job may make it hard to be active in a working day which directly results in weight gain. We don’t need an expensive study or research project to tell us that, the evidence is right there.

The benefits to business don’t just come in the form of potential ROI, A health and wellbeing strategy could contribute to retain and recruit the best staff – becoming an employer of choice.

Pro active businesses such as First bus in Bristol can become part of a National drive to change the culture of a Nation.

Follow my journey with a team of dedicated professionals as I try and get a City, namely Sheffield, the most physically active City in the UK by 2020 by reintegrating movement back into our lives.

For more information follow on twitter @handywriter4u or for health and wellbeing consultancy services email / 07887400202

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