2024/01/23 WHO Unveils Guide to Boost Physical Activity in Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises for Healthier Wor

WHO Unveils Guide to Boost Physical Activity in Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises for Healthier Workplaces

In a bid to encourage health-enhancing physical activity (HEPA) in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the WHO European Region, WHO/Europe has released a comprehensive guide. Sedentary work environments contribute to over 10,000 preventable deaths annually in the region, making physical activity crucial for overall well-being. Targeting the 99% of businesses in the European Union that are SMEs, the guide acknowledges the unique challenges faced by smaller entities and emphasizes their flexibility as an advantage.
SMEs often lack the resources and guidance for full-fledged physical activity programs found in larger corporations. However, the guide capitalizes on the flexibility of SMEs, providing recommendations that seamlessly integrate into their daily routines. Sedentary lifestyles, linked to heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and other noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), contribute to 90% of all deaths in the WHO European Region. WHO recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, posing a challenge in sedentary work settings.
The guide offers practical and creative strategies for SMEs to create health-forward work environments, from organizing walking meetings to promoting cycle-to-work schemes. To facilitate implementation, it includes a list of the top-10 evidence-based interventions that are practical and feasible for SMEs. These interventions cover areas such as cycle-to-work campaigns, active meetings, walking routes, physiotherapy services, warm-up sessions, and supportive workplace policies.
Additionally, the guide emphasizes clear communication tactics, advocating for sustained health discussions and collaboration with health professionals. It aims to initiate a conversation about fostering healthier workplace environments, particularly in SMEs, where long-term benefits may include reduced sick leave and staff turnover. WHO Europe emphasizes that the shift toward a healthier workplace is not only necessary but also entirely achievable, urging SMEs to actively contribute to a society where health and work coexist harmoniously.