Physical Activity

The physical activity of your employees may feel like something that is out of your control but there are many ways in which you can promote physical activity as part of your healthy workplace. Take a look at our handy tips and information about local support below.

What is Physical Activity?

Physical activity is a movement of the body that requires energy. This can include everyday activities such as walking to work or doing housework (moderate activity). Exercise is a type of physical activity but not every physical activity you do is exercise (vigorous). To stay healthy, adults should try to be active several days throughout the week, using moderate or vigorous activity, or a mixture of both - see the guidance below:

Moderate Activity

At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as brisk walking or cycling and strength building exercises on two or more days a week that work all your main muscles.

Vigorous Activity

75 minutes of vigorous activity such as running or playing a sport, plus strength building exercises on two or more days during the week.

Mix it up

Or a mixture of the two, i.e. 30 minutes of activity five days a week.


The best way to think about this is: one minute of vigorous activity provides the same health benefits as two minutes of moderate activity. Strength-building exercises are in addition to your 150/75 minutes of activity.

Doing any physical activity is good for us and can have positive health benefits. Encouraging staff to start small and move more is better than doing nothing at all.

For more guidance on moderate and vigorous activity visit the NHS website.

When getting more active, it is important to maintain a healthy diet and stay hydrated.


More than half a million adults in the South West aged 40-60 struggle to get 10 minutes of walking into their daily routine.

In Gloucestershire, almost 25% of adults over 16 are doing less than 30 minutes of physical activity per week. Compared to the national average, Gloucestershire is one of the most inactive areas.

Employees who are less active can have consequences on your company’s performance. This can include:

lower energy levels

More likely to feel stressed


decreased productivity

Being more active can reduce the risk of illnesses such a heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer by up to 50%.

People with these types of conditions in Gloucestershire, cost the NHS £160 million per annum.

Physical inactivity has major health consequences and is estimated to cost the UK economy about £8.2 billion per year. 

Physical activity programmes at work have been found to reduce absenteeism by up to 20% and physically active workers take 27% fewer sick days.


What you can do to support Physical Activity 

Promoting physical activity within your workplace could be simple things such as encouraging staff to go for a walk at lunchtime, offering lunch-time yoga or Tai-Chi sessions, or promoting local fitness activities such as walking groups or the Park Run. This will give people the option of getting more active without forcing it upon them which could discourage them. We have listed some ideas below.


  • Promote the use of a health app such as Best-You to monitor active minutes
  • Promote the One You Couch to 5K app
  • Promote the use of the FREE healthy lifestyles service – Healthy Lifestyles Gloucestershire, which offers free one-to-one coaching for activity, healthy eating, smoking and reducing alcohol 
  • Display posters from trustworthy sources (such as One-You) at work – see also the resource section below

Best-You is a FREE online platform and app that you and your employees can use as your own personal platform to communicate, create goals and track your progress. 

Create a private group and invite employees to discuss healthy lifestyles at work – activity, healthy eating or anything else that fits your organisation.

Employees can create goals for activity, healthy eating, smoking and more! Users can track their progress against their goal each day and Best-You will give motivational feedback. 

Best-You is full of helpful guidance for activity, healthy eating, smoking, alcohol and more.

  • Encourage employees to walk, cycle or use another mode of transport involving physical activity to travel part or all of the way to and from work (for example, by developing a travel plan)
  • Provide showers and changing facilities
  • Encourage staff to go walking at lunch
  • Encourage staff to take the stairs
  • Provide exercise sessions during lunch times and/or after work – bring in a personal trainer, yoga instructor, Zumba instructor etc.
  • Start up a sports club(s) e.g. football / badminton
  • Set workplace challenges – e.g. climb Snowdon in x days using the stairs
  • Provide your own exercise equipment for employees
  • Provide standing desks 
  • Organise sports days, park runs, etc – use your local parks
  • Offer discounted gym memberships
  • Have physical activity champions within the company
  • Provide guidance and advice to employees about physical activity and what they should be aiming to do each week
  • Support national awareness days or campaigns such as Walk to Work Day, World Health Day, Cycle to Work Day, etc.

Having a healthy workplace scheme should encourage employees to take on a more active role in a healthy lifestyle. When people are more active they tend to want to eat healthier too. See our other sections for advice on Healthy Eating, Stopping Smoking, Mental Health and more!


Additional Support


National Resources

There are lots of resources online that can support you with Physical Activity in the workplace and that you can recommend to employees, if appropriate.

NHS  - Fitness studio, Exercise

Public Health England - Campaign resources – download posters, leaflets etcOne YouPhysical activity, healthy eating and healthier weight: a toolkit for employers

Best-You - An online platform and app for self-care, create a healthy eating group and more – see Best-You section below for more details.

Other apps for improving Physical activity include: Active 10, couch to 5K

You can find more apps and tools in the NHS apps library

Local Support

Healthy Lifestyles Gloucestershire

Location: HLS Gloucestershire, Suite 1B,
First Floor, Eastgate House,
Eastgate Street,
Gloucester GL1 1PX

Phone: 0800 122 3788


HLS Gloucestershire offer FREE one-to-one health coaches to support with healthy weight, getting more active, stopping smoking and reducing alcohol consumption

Visit Your Circle to find gyms and activity classes in your area