MAKE A DIFFERENCE | workplace culture / mental health / wellbeing

ASICS EMEA VP of HR Asks: A Year On. Longer Hours, More stress, Less Exercise: Could Movement Help To Support Workers’ Wellbeing?

For over a year now, millions of us have experienced the highs and lows of working from home. 

While some are enjoying the benefits of avoiding the commute, a better work-life balance, and more autonomy over the working day, it hasn’t been without its downsides. And the strain on workers’ mental health is now very, very real. 

Feeling the strain

According to recent research (1) 40% of workers believe their mental health has worsened, while 37% reported their physical health was not as good. According to the research, 45% report increased mental fatigue, and 40% increased stress since working from home.

And while physical movement could help to relieve stress and anxiety for some, research suggests many workers are now not moving nearly enough during the working day.

Moving Less

Even before the lockdowns, employees who worked at a desk were spending 75% (2) of their time sitting down. And with research (3) showing that employees are working an extra 25% a week since the lockdowns, it’s likely they’ll be sitting for an even bigger part of the day. 

Since working from home, 63% of employees report (4) they are working more due to not taking breaks during the day, and further research (5) reveals 60% of workers are exercising less since the lockdowns started.

Movement for Mind

At ASICS, we are big believers in the positive power of movement on the mind. We know it’s not a solution for everyone, but we are keen to see if we can support more workers to move more during the working day for body and for mind.

So, we have embarked on a research project to develop and test the impact of a simple, twice-weekly, 30-minute movement programme on workers’ wellbeing. The ASICS Movement for Mind research trial will last eight weeks and is being overseen by Dr Brendon Stubbs from Kings College London.

Our own employees and employees from a number of businesses will test the programme that combines movement (running or walking) with other elements scientifically proven to positively impact our mental wellbeing – such as nature, music and mindfulness.

We look forward to sharing the results and hopefully encouraging more businesses to put movement at their heart of their wellbeing plans.

About the author

Katja Meeuwsen-Nass is a champion of movement for wellbeing. In her role as Vice President of Human Resources for the EMEA region, she ensures ASICS’ Sound Mind in a Sound Body philosophy is embedded within the ASICS business. Katja is driving new initiatives aimed at getting employees moving for body and for mind and is currently creating a new movement-based, workplace programme: ASICS Movement for Mind. Katja joined ASICS in 2012 and has held a number of senior HR roles.

  1. https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/research-phil-taylor-university-of-manchester-glasgow-wfh-b925537.html
  2. http://hrnews.co.uk/office-workers-spend-75-of-their-waking-hours-sitting/
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/feb/04/home-workers-putting-in-more-hours-since-covid-research
  4. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/covid-19-what-people-miss-most-about-office-work
  5. https://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/news/articles/half-working-from-home-during-lockdown-unhappy-with-work-life-balance#gref

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