Work over wellbeing: UK professionals struggle to balance work and fitness

Professionals reveal they are struggling to juggle fitness and work into their busy schedule, CV-Library offers its top tips for fitting in a regular workout.

The benefits of regular exercise are indisputable, yet a third (31.6 per cent) of UK professionals admit that they only exercise once or twice a week. What’s more, a worrying one in four (24 per cent) confessed that they don’t exercise at all! That’s according to the latest study from CV-Library.

The survey of 1,200 workers found that 59.4 per cent of professionals do try to maintain their fitness during the working week, with 26.3 per cent preferring to do so before work. Of this, the majority (91.3 per cent) agree this makes them feel more productive. For the other 73.7 per cent who leave exercise until after work, 88.2 per cent say that this helps them to unwind.

Small Business Pro, our all-in-one solution, can save you time and money as well as offering expert and peer support. It will also help with the heavy lifting of managing customers, taking payments, insurance, finance and HR, plus you’ll get a host of personal wellbeing benefits.

You can find out more about Small Business Pro here.

Other key findings include:

The majority (81.5 per cent) agree that regular exercise helps professionals to stay focused at work, yet despite their good intentions, 39.2 per cent admit they do struggle to fit in exercise before they start work.

What’s more, 66.7 per cent admit they sometimes have to skip their workout, because they’ve had to stay late at the office. It’s therefore unsurprising that 66.6 per cent of professionals wish they could exercise more throughout the working week

Lee Biggins, founder and managing director or CV-Library, comments, ‘We can be told about the benefits of regular exercise until we’re blue in the face, but it’s clear that fitting this in around work is a daily struggle for many. We spend a large proportion of our day working, so it’s no surprise that professionals find it hard to motivate themselves to exercise as well, whether that’s before or after work. But the truth is, exercise is extremely important to both physical and mental health and it’s important to encourage staff to be active.’

What’s more, the majority of UK professionals (79 per cent) believe that businesses need to do more to help facilitate exercise during the working week. When asked how they could do this, 49.9 per cent suggested that they offer free or discounted gym memberships as a workplace perk. After that, 22.2 per cent said they should allow more flexible working to fit around individual’s exercise regime.

Biggins concludes, ‘It’s clear that professionals are looking to their employers for support when it comes to making their work and lifestyle fit around one another. Though it might not always be possible to offer flexible hours or free gym memberships, it’s important you are doing all you can to support your workforce and take their wellbeing into consideration.’

With many professionals wishing they could do more exercise, CV-Library offers its top tips for encouraging staff to find time for a regular fitness workout:

  1. Offer flexi-time: Allow staff to start or finish work earlier. This way they’re still doing their contracted hours, but they can fit in a workout either before or after work depending on their preference.
  2. Encourage staff to make the most of their lunch break: Encourage staff to get away from their desks and take their mind of work by going for a walk on their lunch break. It doesn’t have to be a long one, just a stroll around the block will work wonders.
  3. Offer perks: Consider offering workplace perks such as free or discounted gym membership. Or if you’re organisation is big enough, perhaps even consider an on-site gym.
  4. Consider schemes: Consider incentivised schemes such as walk or cycle to work schemes. These can be a great way to get employees moving.
  5. Run group exercise: You could also organise group exercise classes, whether at the gym or perhaps even a running club. This way staff get to socialise with their colleagues outside of work, and keep fit – bonus!

See also: Employee health issues misunderstood by businesses

How to be fit for work

Obesity is a killer. So how can you bring health and happiness to your employees?

A visit to the gym or playing a sport will help make you a fitter and more active person. At the workplace, that should result in greater energy levels and individuals who’re dedicated to boosting profits. Well, that’s the theory at least.

The question is, how do you convince desk-bound staff to opt for the stairs? Can you diplomatically tell them to ease off the cakes and go for an apple instead?

According to the British Heart Foundation (BHF), only 35 per cent of men and 25 per cent of women in England are physically active enough to stay healthy. Around 80 per cent of people are under the false impression that they partake in enough physical activity.

Step by step

Awareness about the benefits of exercise is only the first hurdle. ‘Stress, back problems and obesity are huge problems in the workplace,’ says Ceri Jones, a heart health project manager at the BHF. ‘So a workplace health programme is an integral part of good business management.’

This means setting aside a small budget, educating employees about the benefits of exercise and taking the time to tailor the activities that you offer to the level of fitness of your staff. The BHF’s recommendations range from handing out booklets on physical health to displaying motivational screen savers on the subject. It might seem a little heavy handed to strategically place messages about exercise around the office, so a more imaginative approach could be the key.

‘It’s important that senior management buy in to promoting a healthy workplace,’ adds Jones. ‘You can be quite creative. I know of one company that raised money for charity with a “beat the chief executive” stairwell race. The key is to consult with staff and find out what they want and what they would respond to best.’

A one-off event is all well and good, but encouraging staff to take up regular activity is a harder task. Ian Dixon, production and distribution director at brewer Shepherd Neame, came up with the idea of providing bikes for staff that live within a certain distance of work: ‘I think you have a duty of care to your employees to make sure they are able to do their jobs. It’s a stressful world we live in and with increased automation over the past 20 years, a lot of people are spending most of their time at a desk.

‘We’ve got about 80 or 90 members of staff who cycle to work and we have noticed a reduction in sickness, absence and accidents like strains. We also offer discounted gym membership and try to encourage people to use it with a little friendly persuasion. I think about 50 or 60 per cent of staff are members. When people see other members of staff going and enjoying it, they’re much more likely to go themselves.’

Exercise that fits into people’s daily routine, like walking or cycling to work, is always going to have more sticking power. ‘There is a whole range of things that employers can do to improve employee health,’ explains Jones. ‘It can be anything from having water coolers nearby to putting in place an active travel policy and offering shower facilities so that people can cycle in to work.’

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

Related Topics

Employee health