Heart foundation project puts health onto workplace agenda

A two-year programme to test ways of making England’s workplaces healthier and more active has been launched by the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

The charity has joined forces with the Department of Health, Sport England and the Big Lottery Fund to fund nine pilot research projects across the country to test  ‘healthy interventions’ aimed at improving the health of employees at a variety of workplaces.

The pioneering £1.5m programme has been funded with £800,000 from the Department of Health, £500,000 from Active England – the Big Lottery Fund and Sport England’s joint funding programme – and about £170,000 from the BHF.

The aim is to establish what changes can be made in and around the workplace to improve people’s health, and to what extent these changes can influence employees’ lifestyles.

Increasing physical activity will be a major focus, but projects will also aim to encourage people to give up smoking, improve their diets and make other lifestyle changes.

The methods will include everything from using pedometers to encourage more walking, to running workplace awareness campaigns about smoking, alcohol and diet.

Attention will also be paid to the working environment and how it can influence employee health.

Nicki Cooper, head of education at the BHF, said: “People spend up to 60% of their waking hours at work, yet the workplace as a health-promoting environment is under-used.

“This research programme aims to discover what small changes can be made to effect big differences in employees’ health and achieve a lasting improvement to their lifestyles.”

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