Workplaces should offer lunchtime spinning and yoga classes to 'tackle obesity'

Employers should introduce lunchtime fitness classes to help deal with the growing obesity crisis – according to new guidance.

Health officials have suggested that bosses should offer spinning and yoga in the middle of the working day to help keep their staff healthy.

The guidance, published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), also advises companies to introduce stand-up meetings and to encourage employees to use the stairs by making sure they are clearly signposted.

Other suggestions include offering subsidised gym memberships and distributing leaflets to encourage people to take the stairs and take regular breaks from sitting down.

As well as tackling obesity, another aim of the guidance is to reduce the number of people who have to take sick leave because of stress, depression or anxiety.

More than 131 million working days were lost to sickness in 2017, with 13 million of those days lost because of mental ill-health, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

Working out at lunchtime can be hugely beneficial, and it can do wonders for your mental as well as physical health – encouraging time away from computer and phone screens.

But the reality of that isn’t always simple – lots of us are working longer hours than ever before and it can be hard to find the time to tear yourself away from your desk. NICE officials say there needs to be a culture shift.

‘If the United Kingdom’s 5.7 million small and medium sized businesses encouraged their workforce to be more active, they are more likely to reap the benefits of having engaged employees who are more productive and are less likely to take time off sick,’ says Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE.

‘Simple things like providing secure bicycle storage, showers and changing facilities can go a long way to enabling people to cycle to work or to meetings.

‘As a society we are facing an obesity crisis caused in part by people not exercising enough.

‘We need people to change their lifestyle and to take more exercise. If they can do this during the working day, not only will they benefit, but so too will their employers and the NHS. It’s a win, win for everyone.’

One in four people were classed as obese in 2016 up from one in six in 1993. And almost two thirds of people fall within the overweight or obese category compared with just over half in 1993, according to NHS Digital.

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