WHO: “Worldwide Trends In Insufficient Physical Activity”, Here’s What Coworking Operators Can Do About It

More than a quarter of all adults are not getting enough physical activity, here are 6 ways flexible workspace operators can change that among their members
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) found a worldwide trend in insufficient physical activity.
  • Physical inactivity raises the risks of a myriad of health problems, including heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and cancer.
  • There are various ways in which coworking operators can encourage members to become more physically active.

A recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO) published in the Lancet Global Health journal found a worldwide trend in insufficient physical activity from 2001 to 2016.

According to the report, more than a quarter of people are not doing enough physical exercise. While most health risks and diseases worldwide have fallen throughout the years, this isn’t the case for physical inactivity.

Moreover, this trend is most pronounced in wealthier countries, where jobs and hobbies have become more sedentary and don’t encourage or require much activity. “The prevalence of insufficient physical activity in high-income countries was more than double the prevalence in low-income countries in 2016,” the report reads.

The report also found that “women were less active than men in 2016. There was a difference between the sexes of more than 10 percentage points.”

Overall, in 2016 “more than a quarter of all adults was not getting enough physical activity. This puts more than 1.4 billion adults at risk of developing or exacerbating diseases linked to inactivity.”

Physical inactivity raises the risks of a myriad of health problems, including heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and cancer.

Physical activity, on the other hand,  has been linked to various health benefits, such as a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, and breast and colon cancer. Its effects on mental health have also been well documented, including delays on the onset of dementia and it helps relieve symptoms of depression and tension.

What can flexible workspace operators do to encourage more physical activity in the workplace?

Over the past couple of years wellness has become a popular topic when talking about work and the workplace. Initiatives like the Fitwel Certification and the WELL Building Standard have encouraged companies to create and design workplaces that improve our physical and mental wellbeing.

Other than designing a workplace that encourages physical activity–placing the water station somewhere where people need to walk or making the stairs more appealing–there are other strategies that flexible workspace operators can use to encourage members to lead a more active life.

The WHO recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly. It also recommends strength exercises at least twice a week and for individuals to break off long periods of sedentary behavior with light activity.

6 ways to encourage your flexible workspace community to be more physically active

  • Add treadmill desks to your space. Invest in some treadmill desks and add them to your shared workspace area, somewhere members can easily jump on and off throughout the day. Members could use them while checking emails, drafting documents, or any other low-focus computer task.
  • Do a coworking community fitness challenge. Most, if not all, smartphones today track its owner’s physical activity. They count steps, estimate distance walked, minutes of activity, and even sleep patterns. Operators can organize weekly or monthly fitness challenges to encourage members to walk more throughout the day. Prizes can include discounts for local businesses, extra meeting room usage, a one-month membership upgrade, etc.
  • Organize group workout breaks and pauses. Every hour you can ask people to get up and join you on a quick workout session, 5 to 10 minutes. There are several mobile apps available that you can use for inspiration or you can just get creative and come up with your own 5 or 10-minute routine. The routine can include jumping jacks, push ups, sit ups, squats, mountain climbers, and any other exercise that doesn’t require any equipment.
  • Partner with a local gym. Reach out to your local gym or a gym franchise and ask if they’re willing to partner with you. You can refer customers to them and in turn, your members can get a gym membership at a discount. This strategy works especially well if your workspace is located within walking distance of a gym, and if you’re in a high-traffic city.
  • Organize or sponsor a 5K or 10K. Find a charitable cause that your members and the local community care about and organize or sponsor a short race. This is a great way to encourage people to become more involved with the local community and it also gives them a reason and a purpose to become more physically active during the week.
  • Offer on-site bike storage and showers. Oftentimes people want to walk or bike to the workplace, but they shy away from doing so because there are no showers or bike storage facilities. By offering bike storage and showers you will encourage members to bike or walk to your space without having to worry about whether it is sunny and they will sweat, whether it will rain, etc.


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