Lack of time, low self‐esteem and uninspiring bosses stopping Brits from exercising at work

  • 61 per cent of UK employees say their employer doesn’t encourage them to lead an active lifestyle1
  •  Lack of time (26 per cent) during lunch break, low self‐esteem (22 per cent) and embarrassment around poor fitness (25 per cent) are key barriers to employees exercising at work
  • On National Fitness Day (27th September) AXA PPP healthcare is urging employers to push back their working day by one hour to enable the nation’s workforce to get active

New research from AXA PPP healthcare reveals that 61 per cent of UK employees do not feel encouraged by their employer to lead an active lifestyle. This is despite most managers agreeing that exercise positively impacts employees’ productivity (78 per cent)2 and their ability to handle stress (82 per cent).


Of all the British employees who exercise after work, nearly half (46 per cent) would prefer to do so before work but 79 per cent blame lack of time in the morning. And morning exercise has proven to work for many – for those who find time to be physically active before work, three quarters (75 per cent) feel it spurs them on to be more effective in the morning while 69 per cent feel more productive.

Nearly half of employees (45 per cent) of employees admit they do not do the NHS recommended 30 minutes of daily exercise, five times a week3, but finding time to be physically active during the working day can be difficult, or undesirable. Sixty‐two per cent of employees with good intentions to exercise at work find they’re cancelling their lunchtime exercise plans due to workload or work commitments.

Perception is also stopping employees from exercising during the working day. Low self‐esteem and body issues is a barrier preventing 22 per cent of employees from exercising with colleagues, while one in 10 are deterred by the prospect of wearing spandex and general gym gear. This reluctance may be fuelled by the perception of more than one in four employers (26 per cent) who see the wearing of gym clothes at work as unprofessional. Physical appearance aside, the biggest barrier stopping employees from exercising with colleagues is embarrassment around feeling unfit (25 per cent).

In light of these barriers, 63 per cent of bosses would consider allowing their workforce the flexibility to start work an hour later, so they could be more active and get their day off to a flying start, if they made up the time elsewhere.

Whether it’s organising exercise classes at lunchtime, providing subsidised gym access or simply encouraging a more active commute, employers should do their best to promote and support employees to be active during the working day. That’s why AXA PPP healthcare and ukactive have joined forces this National Fitness Day on 27th September, urging bosses from businesses of all sizes to help their employees get National Fitness Day off to a Flying Start by pushing back the working day by one hour to enable them to do something active.


¹ Research of 1,000 full‐time employees undertaken in August 2017 by 3Gem for AXA PPP healthcare
2 Research of 500 decision‐makers undertaken in August 2017 by 3Gem for AXA PPP healthcare
3 NHS Choices, ‘Why we should sit less’:‐and‐sedentary‐ behaviour‐are‐bad‐for‐your‐health.aspx

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