In a major new international study by Cambridge University of more than 1 million people, mainly aged over 45, it was discovered that 60% of the participants were sedentary, inactive and unhealthy. Furthermore, recent research by Mastercard and Ipsos MORI shows that the average lunch hour has been cut to just 28 minutes, as workers are just too busy to take time out.

Lack of exercise is a silent killer as it can contribute to heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. Fortunately, there is something you can do about that horrifying statistic; an hour a day of brisk exercise, such as walking or cycling can undo the damage and may eliminate the increased risk of death associated with a desk-bound working life.

Interestingly, scientists believe that although exercise cannot boost your IQ it can improve cognitive performance as better blood flow improves neurological functioning. The best predictor of brain speed is aerobic capacity so perhaps all ‘wanna be’ chief executives should exercise more often to sharpen their minds and improve their ability to make complex decisions more quickly.  What’s more, the endorphins released can also improve mood, reduce anger and help you to cope better with the stresses and strains of office life.  

So what should bosses do to ensure that their workforce does not drop off this mortal coil too soon? They could encourage their staff to leave their desks at lunchtime, climb the stairs rather than using the lift, and set up flexible lunchtime walking groups. They could also offer their employees a simple health screening check to ascertain weight, cholesterol and blood pressure, invest in an office treadmill, or ask their local fitness centre for reduced group membership. Perhaps they should provide their staff with Swiss exercise balls rather than uncomfortable chairs, introduce standing workstations and fill their office canteens with more healthy food options. However, all too often you see offices crammed with people at desks where a power walk consists of a trip to the vending machine and back. Being active is an individual’s choice and you must take responsibility for making healthy decisions but if your office makes those decisions easier for you, then surely that would benefit everyone?