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The summer is traditionally a great time for sports, with football, tennis and cycling recently gripping the nation.

So whilst we enjoy a summer of world-class sport, how can employers capitalise on renewed interest in sport, encourage greater physical activity, and highlight supporting benefits packages to encourage a healthier lifestyle?

Trying something new
Employers can encourage employees to try a new sport, by organising a team outing to their local sports ground. A regular gym attendee may give football a go if their colleagues are all heading to the pitch, for example, after seeing sensational performances during the World Cup.

The charity Mind also points out how spending time with positive people can be a great boost to self-esteem* and being physically active can reduce someone’s risk of depression by up to 30%**. Encouraging employees to get active and socialising with their colleagues can provide great mental and physical benefits. It may be that they find a new hobby and friends, thanks to the efforts their company made in organising a sporting event.

Continuing into winter
Whilst tennis courts are flooded with people around Wimbledon, thanks to renewed interest in the sport and good weather, they empty out as winter approaches. Badminton clubs can be a great way to maintain activity when the nights draw in, keeping employees active when exercising outdoors loses its appeal. Employers, where possible, can also utilise their business premises – turning conference rooms into areas for after-work yoga classes, for example, or having a games console that requires physical activity available for use in the canteen.

Raising awareness of what else is available
Once employees are out exercising it’s a great opportunity to communicate wider benefits of health and wellbeing programmes available to them, as they will be more receptible to receiving such information away from their desks and daily deadlines. They may be aware that their company offers private medical insurance (PMI) for example, but not realise this can include regular healthcare screenings, speedy medical appointments, therapies and even discounted gym membership and travel insurance.

Before participating in a group sporting activity, employers can gather employees briefly to encourage them to utilise health checks, for example. With Cancer Research UK*** finding that more than 9 in 10 bowel cancer patients survive for more than 5 years if diagnosed at the earliest stage, it’s an important message to give employees – to tackle health concerns early.

The benefits of exercise are numerous: aiding better physical and mental health; encouraging team building; and providing the opportunity to communicate other health-related benefits available. With the summer providing the perfect opportunity to start such a conversation, thanks to excellent weather and world-class sporting events, now is the time to engage employees in health and wellbeing initiatives.

* https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/self-esteem

** https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/exercise-health-benefits

*** http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancer-symptoms/why-is-early-diagnosis-important

Brett Hill – Managing Director, The Health Insurance Group

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