Posted on by Ben Wang

When you work with a range of ages, you need to bear their differing physical needs in mind.

Keeping a workforce healthy is a major HR need nowadays, but doing so is not a simple task. One of the main challenges is dealing with a range of employees from different demographics, each with their own diverse needs. One thing in particular that needs taking into consideration is age.

Most businesses focus heavily on physical activity when it comes to keeping their workforces healthy, ensuring employees don’t spend too long sitting down throughout the day. However, some age groups struggle more with this than others, and will potentially need extra encouragement and support.

The British Heart Foundation has found that as people get older, they are less and less likely to meet the recommended level of physical activity each day. In the UK, this is defined as at least 2.5 hours of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, in bouts of 10 minutes or more, per week.

In England and Scotland, 83 per cent of men between the ages of 16 and 24 manage to meet this requirement, as do 71 per cent in Northern Ireland. However, other demographic groups are not so active. Between the ages of 25 and 54, an average of 71 per cent of men meet their physical requirements, but then there is a sharp decline.

Just 41 per cent of men aged between 54 and 65 in Northern Ireland are active enough, along with 55 per cent in England and 61 per cent in Scotland. With one in four workers in the UK aged over 50, this is a definite cause for concern.

The situation is even worse for UK women. Their most active demographic is 16-24 year olds in Scotland, 68 per cent of which are active enough. However, despite being less active overall, from the age of 54 onwards women are roughly as active as men on average.

So what does all this mean for employers? One clear issue is finding ways to keep older employees more active than younger ones. As people get older, it can become harder to undertake physical activity, so different tactics might be necessary.

One option is to offer some kind of physical activity that is gentler for those not up to more strenuous bursts of exercise. Yoga is a good example. Alternatively, simply ensuring your employees are not sat down all day can go a long way towards keeping them healthy.