The WELL Building Standard: Integrating Fitness Everyday
It’s a difficult question to answer honestly, but how much do you think about fitness in your daily life?
Integrating exercise into our every day lives is incredibly difficult for many of us who often live in fast paced, hard-working urban environments. We are all well aware of what we should be doing but how many of us actually achieve it? And how much does our environment discourage and hinder the necessary levels of exercise and fitness?
Physical inactivity dominates modern life and 60% of people worldwide do not get the recommended 30-minutes, five times a week, minimum of physical activity. Modern transportation, labor saving convenience and sedentary jobs have created an environment in which many people fail to achieve the level of activity necessary for fitness and it poses one of the biggest modern threats to public health. It’s estimated that worldwide, if physical inactivity was reduced by 25% over 1.3 million deaths could be avoided every year.
The WELL Building Standard recognizes that the built environment is not always optimally designed to encourage us to keep physical activity at the heart of our daily lives and therefore seeks to integrate and promote strategies into our designed world to maximize our fitness, promote productivity and energy in the workplace and help to prevent chronic diseases.
We’ve summarized the main ways in which the WELL Building Standard encourages the integration of exercise in every day life for you below:
Active Design Inside & Out
According to WELL standards every element of exterior design should also be thought through to encourage and integrate increased activity around a site. Ideas such as creating plazas and gardens, cyclist and pedestrian-friendly environments and providing benches and water bottle filling stations around buildings can help incentivize physical activity. The presence of retail shops, bus stops and offices within walking distance from residences and workplaces is also linked to a likelihood of walking, increasing daily and regular exercise.
Inside buildings how many of us hop in the elevator and think we’ll take the stairs next time? In most buildings stairwells are purely practical spaces rather than aesthetic areas so WELL encourages us to use the stairs by making sure they are accessible and easily located with improved signage and by maximizing their aesthetic appeal. This is achieved by increasing artwork on display, daylight from windows (or good lighting) and by using music to make the climbing experience more enjoyable. Encouraging stair climbing incorporates short bursts of low-impact moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity into the workday, and is associated with burning calories and improved cardio-respiratory fitness.
Getting Employees Moving
Adequate exercise does not only benefit physical health, but it also leads to a better mental health and an increased quality of life. In addition, even small amounts of activity can lead to significant benefits.
Sometimes we need a push to get ourselves motivated to exercise and research for the WELL Building Standard backs this up, showing that incentivizing exercise has a high success rate for initial uptake and maintaining regular exercise routines. This can be done for the workforce through schemes to financially incentivize cycling to work, physical training programs or gym usage, subsidy of mass participation sports, group fitness activities and membership of sports teams and in some cases to provide free or heavily subsidized gyms offsite or even onsite for employees to use during their working day.
Access to fitness equipment and spaces for exercise in close proximity to work or home impacts on the amount of exercise we do; therefore WELL encourages working locations close to these facilities or that they are provided within buildings for the use of employees. It has been shown that convenient access to complimentary and varied types of fitness equipment that promote both cardiovascular and muscle-strengthening exercises can make regular exercise habits easier to achieve, leading to a wide range of health benefits for employees.
Structured fitness programs created by experts for employees that require more focused training to address specific health issues is a great strategy for businesses to reduce absenteeism and other difficulties that occur with long-term health problems.
Active transport to work schemes initiated and run by corporate businesses are a cost-effective and efficient way to integrate physical activity into a daily routine and can make a great difference to the health of those taking part. An added benefit that we love at Liquid Interiors is that it reduces the carbon footprint too! Companies are required to provide support to employees such as bicycle storage along with changing and showering facilities and lockers for those who want to take advantage of active commuting.
Sitting at a desk or workstation for hours and hours a day has been proven to be very bad for your health, in fact sitting for more than 3 hours per day can shorten your life expectancy by two years and unfortunately this statistic is not negated by regular exercise. Strategies to alleviate the negative affects of sitting can be integrated into the workplace through active furnishings such as treadmill, portable or bicycle desks or stepper machines and adjustable desks that allow for standing whilst working. During a full workday in an office it is important to get up once in a while to walk around or ensure an active workstation is used for at least a part of the day.
By implementing The WELL Building Standard within working environments companies can dramatically increase the health and wellbeing of their employees, ultimately leading to an increase in the productivity of their staff. Obviously there is a great incentive for these inspiring ideas to be taken up by businesses more widely; in the meantime we can all aspire to the WELL fitness concept by adapting these ideas into our daily lives at home and at work and by always choosing the option that keeps us moving, increasing and maintaining our fitness in a holistic way.
Feel free to contact Liquid Interiors, your healthy and eco conscious interior design consultants.