Being more active can increase job satisfaction and reduce number of sick days.
NICE is calling on employers to be more proactive in encouraging staff to get regular exercise.
Organisations are being urged to provide information about safe travel routes to work for cyclists and pedestrians, in addition to producing physical activity programmes for the workplace to encourage employees to be more active and reduce inactivity, or sedentary behaviour.
The recently published NICE Quality Standard on encouraging physical activity in the community is aimed at healthcare commissioners, service providers, health and public health practitioners, employers, schools, voluntary and community sector and the public.
Offering subsidised gym memberships and encouraging the use of stairs instead of using the lift are just some of the ways employers can encourage their staff to be more active, NICE has said, to help reduce the risk of obesity and developing related health conditions, including type 2 diabetes.
Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics found that more than 131 million working days in the UK were lost to sickness in 2017, including 13 million working days lost to stress, depression or anxiety.
There can be physical and mental health benefits for people of all ages and abilities by being more active in everyday life.
The NICE report said that encouraging staff to be more active could help to reduce days taken off sick and increase staff satisfaction, in addition to improving the workplace environment.
Professor Gillian Leng, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Health and Social Care at NICE, said: “If the United Kingdom’s 5.7 million small and medium sized businesses encouraged their workforce to be more active, they are more likely to reap the benefits of having engaged employees who are more productive and are less likely to take time off sick.
“Simple things like providing secure bicycle storage, showers and changing facilities can go a long way to enabling people to cycle to work or to meetings.
“As a society we are facing an obesity crisis caused in part by people not exercising enough. We need people to change their lifestyle and to take more exercise. If they can do this during the working day, not only will they benefit, but so too will their employers and the NHS. It’s a win, win for everyone.”
Public Health Minister Seema Kennedy said: “We have a world leading plan to tackle obesity with prevention at its core, and later this summer we will be setting out further action on obesity and physical activity through a prevention green paper.
“It is vital that employers embrace prevention to ensure their staff stay fit and healthy. Having seen first-hand in my department the positive impact running clubs can have, I welcome the launch of the Quality Standard as another way to encourage communities to stay active.”
The latest figures for obesity published by NHS Digital revealed that one in four people were classed as obese in 2016 up from one in six in 1993. In addition, almost two thirds of people fall within the overweight or obese category compared with just over half in 1993.
Public Health England has claimed physical inactivity is as deadly as smoking, with one in six deaths caused by a sedentary lifestyle – costing an estimated £7.4 billion annually (including around £1 billion to the NHS alone).