Paving the way to healthier workers
Why bother with the gym when there's an exercise track right outside your door? Andrew Chesterton reports.
Bosses are being encouraged to host a healthy breakfast and ask their employees to walk to work this Friday as part of a Pedestrian Council fitness campaign.
Walk to Work Day is aimed at getting Australian workers into the habit of walking more often.
The Pedestrian Council launched the campaign in 1998, and the event has been getting bigger every year.
``People are starting to realise they can walk instead of going to the gym every day to get a lot of their physical activity needs fulfilled,'' Pedestrian Council chairman Harold Scruby says.
``The awareness and participation are growing every year.''
Scruby says it's time employers began realising the benefits of a healthy staff.
``Employers have to realise the huge benefits of this.
``If you've got a healthy workforce, you've got higher productivity and, of course, the immense social and mental benefits of regular exercise.''
According to the Pedestrian Council, technology has become the biggest enemy of walking.
Most gadgets in modern life are aimed at reducing the amount of exercise people have to do.
``Lifts have been a major problem,'' Scruby says. ``We drive out of our push-button garages in our push-button cars and into our push-button lifts. It's like we've forgotten how to use our legs.''
The Pedestrian Council is targeting bosses with this year's event, and Harold Scruby says employers will gain the most benefit from having fit, healthy staff.
``This year, we want businesses, government agencies and councils to host a healthy breakfast for their staff,'' he says.
``It's as simple as providing some nice fresh fruit, some cereal and tea and coffee or juice to celebrate.
``The push is to get businesses behind this. They're the ones who will benefit.''
Scruby believes something as simple as persuading everyone to walk every day could help solve the obesity crisis that is threatening most Western countries.
``We're rapidly becoming the fattest nation in the world, and walking is a way to beat that,'' he says.
``It's free, anyone can do it, and the venue is right outside your house.''
Bsc Body Science director Nathan Picklum will provide a healthy breakfast for his staff when they walk to work on Friday.
He is even promoting the idea to his clients as a way to get other employees motivated and energised.
``We're a sports-nutrition company, so fitness is the top priority, and exercise is the best form of well-being,'' Picklum says.
``We don't want our staff to be tired and run-down, and exercise does promote good health.''
Professor Adrian Bauman, of the University of Sydney, says that if 10 per cent more Australians walked every day, even if only for short distances, it could prevent 1000 people from dying from heart disease every year.