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The Business Healthy Challenge is encouraging workers in the Square Mile to get out of the office and focus on becoming fitter through some friendly competition.

Over 500 City workers from more than 50 Square Mile firms are taking part in the annual Business Healthy Challenge this month. Employees are teaming up with colleagues and competing against each other to earn points, win prizes, and get fit.

The free challenge runs throughout May, which is also Living Streets’ National Walking Month.

Firms including Nomura, Public Health England, and Hachette UK are taking part to encourage staff to incorporate physical activity into their busy daily routines, forming positive habits over the long-term, and improving team morale.

According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), physical inactivity costs the NHS around £1billion per year. Including costs to wider society, this rises to around £7.4bn every 12 months.

Moreover, successful companies tend to have healthy, happy, productive workforces, and employers are starting to realise that investing in employee health and wellbeing makes good business sense.

And, with so many employees in these big firms being big on competition, this challenge just makes plenty of sense.

Companies earn points by forming teams and logging their physical activity on the online Business Healthy Challenge platform. All types of exercise can earn points, including walking, cycling, going to the gym, gardening, and everything between. And participants can also boost their tally by attending free activities, including Barre classes, running clubs, and walking tours.

Organisers are making it easier than ever to set up a fitness routine by exploring all the different kinds of physical activity. At the end of the month, all teams reaching 3,000 points or more will be entered into a grand prize draw, and be in with a chance to win prizes donated by local businesses.

Participants in last year’s challenge – run by the City Corporation – racked up 167million steps, equivalent to walking up and down the steps of the Gherkin, the Cheesegrater and St Paul’s Cathedral 40,000 times. Some 70,000 miles were covered by participants through all activities recorded.

Marianne Fredericks, chair of the City Corporation’s health and wellbeing board, said: “Physical inactivity has a huge negative impact on businesses and wider society, through days lost to sickness and poor staff health.

“With busy lives, fitting physical activity into a busy routine can be a challenge.

“We are showing that small changes can make a huge difference to our health. Together we are fighting back against conditions such as heart disease, obesity and depression. I’m delighted to see so many City workers taking part.”

Professor Yvonne Doyle, director of the London region for Public Health England, said: “The Business Healthy Challenge is an opportunity for City employees to get active and improve their health and wellbeing.

“Being sedentary comes at a huge cost not only to businesses and the economy but to an individual’s health.

“Exercise brings so many benefits to both physical and mental health and initiatives
such as this, which get people up and away from their desks, can provide the motivation they need to make exercise a part of their daily lives.”

The 2019 Business Healthy Challenge is being sponsored by Nomura, and is supported by Public Health England and Living Streets. 

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