Happy National Fitness Awareness Month! It is important that employees move and stay healthy in the places where they spend a majority of their time. Here’s a look at how we can provide better work environments by incorporating staying healthy goals into organizations: #NationalFitnessMonth #WeAreWELL #WELLWednesdays #workwell #unitedinteriors #itsallaboutyou
The WELL Building Standard™ (WELL) promotes the integration of physical activity into everyday life by providing the opportunities and support for an active lifestyle and discouraging sedentary behaviors.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) define fitness as “the ability to carry out daily tasks with vigor and alertness, without undue fatigue, and with ample energy to enjoy leisure-time pursuits and respond to emergencies”. Regular physical activity is essential to achieve optimal health, including weight management, chronic disease prevention and fitness maintenance. The American College of Sports Medicine, among others, recommends that all healthy adults engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity five days per week, and muscle-strengthening activities at least two days per week. Numerous types of physical activities, including walking, running, cycling, swimming and resistance training have demonstrated health benefits, with greater gains when performed at higher intensities or for longer periods of time.
However, the majority of people today are physically inactive. Modern transportation, labor saving conveniences and sedentary jobs have created an environment in which millions of people fail to achieve the minimum level of activity necessary to help prevent type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, heart disease and other chronic conditions. In the U.S. alone, fewer than 50% of elementary school students, 10% of adolescents and 5% of adults obtain 30 minutes of daily physical activity. An average adult obtains only 6-10 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity a day. The situation is similar worldwide—over 60% of all people do not get the recommended daily 30-minute minimum of moderate-intensity physical activity, and are thus considered inactive.
Physical inactivity poses one of the biggest modern threats to public health. It is an independent risk factor for numerous chronic diseasesand is estimated to be responsible for 30% of ischemic heart disease, 27% of type 2 diabetes and 21-25% of breast and colon cancer cases. Lack of physical activity can also increase the odds of having a stroke by 20-30% and shave off 3-5 years of life. Together, these and other conditions make physical inactivity the fourth leading risk factor for mortality, accounting for 6-9% of deaths worldwide, or three to five million mortalities every year.
While the issue of insufficient activity is multi-faceted, one of the factors known to impact physical activity levels is the built environment. Neighborhood walkability, access to and use of mass transit, active transportation, availability of physical activity facilities near workplaces and homes, stair accessibility in buildings, active furnishings and many other factors can affect the physical activity level of an individual. Considering that 90% of our time is spent within the built environment, urban planning and building design strategies that are consciously articulated either to encourage more physical activity or discourage sedentariness can constitute powerful intervention strategies to promote a more active lifestyle.
The WELL Building Standard® recognizes the physical activity-promoting policies and strategies that can be implemented in the built environment to encourage physical activity and reduce sedentariness, thus helping to combat obesity and other chronic diseases.
Interior fitness circulation
Activity incentive programs
Structured fitness opportunities
Exterior active design
Physical activity spaces
Active transportation support