Edinburgh businesses urged to kick off the new decade by getting their employees moving
A charity is urging businesses in Edinburgh to kick start the new decade by getting their workforce moving.
As debates around climate change and mental health gain momentum, national walking charity Paths for All believes employers should act now to help staff be healthier and happier by signing up for its Walk at Work Award.
Aimed at reversing the trend of inactive workplaces, 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.
Over 20 workplaces have already earned the Walk at Work Award, with 42 more now working towards it.
Ian Findlay CBE, Chief Officer at Paths for All, said: “The workplace is where the majority of us spend a great deal of our time, so it’s incredibly important that staff wellbeing is at the forefront of any employer’s mind.
“The benefits of walking for mental health can’t be denied. Research has shown that physical activity helps to reduce anxiety and depression, and alleviate negative moods. It improves self-esteem and cognitive function – those who are active during their working day are more productive, take fewer sick days, and are more focused.
“Taking part in group activities also benefits social health, helping us to connect and build meaningful relationships with colleagues.
“On top of that, it is becoming increasingly difficult for companies to ignore the rising concerns and need for action around climate change. They have a growing responsibility to reduce their carbon footprint and introduce policies which put the environment at the centre of their business activities.
“We expect that sooner rather than later, organisations everywhere will be asked to make more efforts to do what they can to improve on all of these issues.
“Taking active measures to incorporate walking or any other physical activity into a working day is a cost-effective and a simple way of doing so. We’re of firm belief that it should become a widespread practice.
“We’re proud to be able to provide a solid framework and support to organisations around Scotland to help them achieve this and begin this new decade on the right footing.”
Launched in November 2018, the Walk at Work award has proved popular with businesses from a wide range of sectors including private sector businesses, local authorities, charities, higher education colleges and universities, national parks and leisure centres.
Standing desks, lunch time walks, organised litter picks, encouraging staff to take breaks away from their desks and providing information on routes around the workplace are just some of the activities and adaptations implemented by companies to meet the accreditation criteria.
Based all around the country, the companies taking part include large-scale organisations such as Queen Margaret University, the Scottish Ambulance Service, NHS Highlands, and Jacobs UK.
Bruce Laing, Deputy Director of Estates and Commercial at Queen Margaret University, said: “At QMU, we have seen many positive benefits in engaging our staff and students to participate in physical activity during their working day – it underlines the need for us all to take a proactive approach and think differently about our choices.”
Recent findings from UK workplaces reveal that half of all employees experience poor mental health at work, including stress, anxiety and depression. Regular walking can reduce the effects of poor mental health, particularly walking in greenspace.
Physical activity can also combat against the risk of type 2 diabetes, some cancers and stroke.
Paths for All works with Scottish Government and 30 partners to support and deliver national policies, such as the National Walking Strategy and other ‘active travel’ initiatives.