Love Parks

National Parks Week and Love Parks Week both take place later this month. As well as simply being events your organisation can promote internally, you can use them to promote employee health and wellbeing by encouraging employees to be more active.

Employee health and wellbeing – “love parks” to encourage more active lifestyles

This month is Love Parks Week from 13-20 July and National Parks Week from 23-29 July. The former is the annual event run by the charity Keep Britain Tidy,  which encourages people to get out and use their parks.

The latter, run by National Parks, champions the attractions of the UK’s 15 national parks, and the week includes events such as treasure trails, “seaside safaris” and guided forest walks.

Each is something you can highlight in your workplace, whether there’s a local park nearby that is a popular lunchtime or outside of work destination or if there is a national park close enough for employees to visit at the weekend or when on holiday.

Keep Britain Tidy, too, is keen to attract corporate volunteers and #LitterHeroes, and so an event like this can be a great volunteering/CSR opportunity within your workplace.

Sedentary lifestyles

But you can also use both events to promote some important employee health and wellbeing messages, not least around sedentary lifestyles and the benefits of becoming more active, both during the working day and outside of work.

The British Heart Foundation, for one, is highlighting how employers and employees can use the week to get outside and take some exercise, and how to encourage colleagues to join them in improving their health and wellbeing.

The employee health risks of overly-sedentary lifestyles, both at work and at home, are becoming increasingly well-recognised, as this site has highlighted in the past.

Not taking enough exercise is associated with a heightened risk of obesity, heart disease, cancer and diabetes, as well as simply the risk of storing up health problems, especially musculoskeletal problems, for the future.

Reflection, creativity and collaboration

As Optima Health Chief Medical Officer Dr Lucy Wright emphasises, tackling over-sedentary working and home lifestyles needs to be something you make a regular part of your workplace health promotion, education and engagement activity.

“Getting your employees up and active doesn’t mean having to offer gym membership or fitness clubs, although such benefits can often be popular. It can mean encouraging small behaviour change – taking the stairs instead of the lift or regular screen breaks, physically talking to people rather than emailing, getting out at lunchtime for a proper walk.

“Not only can all this help employees to become more active, it can bring wider workplace benefits too. People actually talking to each other can encourage creativity and collaboration. Getting out at lunchtime – perhaps to a local park – can encourage reflection and problem-solving. Encouraging stand-up meetings can mean decisions get made more efficiently.

“The key is about encouraging people to make changes in their behaviours that are realistic and manageable for them and therefore will, hopefully, become permanent healthier lifestyle changes. And getting out to, and making better use of, local and national parks and recreation facilities can be a key part of this,” she adds.