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Research Puts Australian Work Culture At The Heart Of Poor Health

Cerebral Palsy Alliance Urges Aussies to Embrace their Health this Steptember

Australian workers are putting their jobs before their health and wellbeing according to new research that reveals more than half (54%) of full‐time employees cite pressures from their occupation as a barrier to exercising.

Commissioned by Cerebral Palsy Alliance as part of its annual Steptember fundraising campaign, the national survey looked at workplace habits and attitudes, as well as the barriers and drivers for improved health outcomes. It found that about half (47%) of employees would participate in regular workplace health activities if bosses and colleagues were more supportive.

The research also revealed Aussie employees’ workplace habits:

  • Half of Aussie workers (50%) take two or less full lunch breaks per week, with 20% never taking a lunch break
  • 43% spend their time at a desk or in meetings for six to seven hours a day, meaning it’s no surprise that almost half (43%) say they are too tired to lead an active lifestyle
  • Employees know that they are risking their health for work, with 69% understanding that it is recommended by the World Health Organisation to walk 10,000 steps a day, but just 32% leave their desks long enough to reach this target

Cerebral Palsy Alliance General Manager Program Development, Liz Foy, said the findings highlight the key issues in the workplace for Aussies, including the fact that only 14% have access to health activities through work.

“For many organisations and workplaces these statistics are something they want to change, and by joining in Steptember they receive the support, fun, and motivation needed to kick start a focus on their health and wellbeing. Steptember is Australia’s leading health and wellness fundraising campaign. This year we are aiming to rally 55,000 people to raise over $5 million to help us continue our work supporting individuals living with cerebral palsy and to fund ground breaking research into therapies, preventions and cures. A whopping 80% of respondents had citied health as being quite or very important to their performance at work, something at the forefront of the Steptember campaign.”

This year Australia’s Biggest Loser star and Steptember 2016 Ambassador, Tiffiny Hall, is taking on the Steptember challenge, which encourages Aussies to band together in teams of four, with each person completing 10,000 steps a day – or the equivalent exercise across 40 different activities including yoga, rugby, lawn bowls and various wheelchair activities – for the month of September.

“I know how hard it can be to maintain an active lifestyle when work seems to get in the way at every opportunity. Steptember not only gives you clear daily goals, but also a deeply motivating reason to get moving and change the way people think about health and wellbeing. I’m excited to be partnering with Steptember and can’t wait to see how many people we’re able to get active this September.”

According to the new research, barriers to employees’ workplace health activities include managers or team cultures that are not supportive (23%), a lack of changing rooms or shower facilities (27%), and concerns that peers may view participants as being less hard working (10%).

Respondents were clear, however, on what they want when it comes to healthy activities, including free or subsidised gym memberships (38%), massages (29%), internal gyms (28%), yoga (23%) and charity exercise drives (17%). Almost a quarter (23%) also stated that viewing and sharing ‘fitspiration’ content would encourage them to get active.

Jo Cameron, CEO Goodman Foundation, the charitable arm of Goodman Group – one of the largest industrial property groups globally, said employee wellbeing needs to be a top priority for Australian businesses.

“Productivity, efficiency, collaboration and engagement are all enhanced when you have a healthy, happy workplace and we find connecting to activities with a cause is a great way to drive participation. While 10,000 steps each day sounds like a lot, there are more than 40 different activities that we can use to reach the goal, so there’s something for everyone regardless of physical ability and differing interests.”

Registrations cost $25 per adult and $10 per child. To take on the challenge and get your free Steptember pedometer to track your progress, visit www.steptember.org.au

About Cerebral Palsy

There are approximately 17 million people globally currently living with cerebral palsy, including 34,000 in Australia. Cerebral palsy is the most common physical disability in children, and in Australia, a child is born with the condition every 15 hours, accounting for one in every 500 babies. Cerebral palsy is an umbrella term for a group of disorders caused by injury to the brain. It is a permanent, lifelong condition with no known cure. Cerebral palsy can range from weakness in one hand, to an almost complete lack of voluntary movement. People with significant physical disability may require care 24 hours a day.

About Cerebral Palsy Alliance

Founded in 1945, Cerebral Palsy Alliance provides family‐centred therapies and care to people living with the condition and their families, including early intervention, specialised assessments, therapy, aids and equipment, hydrotherapy, exercise and sport, and assistance with inclusion in school and the community. The organisation respond to the changing needs of its clients based on the latest research, technology and therapies.

About Steptember

Steptember is Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s leading annual fundraising initiative, raising vital funds to provide equipment and services for people living with cerebral palsy, as well as ground breaking research. Originating in Australia and spreading to nine countries around the world, September challenges the public and workplaces to band together and take the equivalent of 10,000 steps a day as recommended by the World Health Organisation for a healthy life, throughout the month of September. The Goodman Foundation is the exclusive Steptember global partner, supporting Cerebral Palsy Alliance for over 13 years. Goodman have launched their “Count Us In” campaign for their employees and business networks to step up to the challenge.

About the research

All figures based on a survey of 2,017 Australian adults conducted by Australia Online Research in July 2016.

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