Physical Activity


Our Statement of Intent for Physical Activity

The University of Aberdeen is one of the North East's largest employers, with around 4,000 staff. 

In January 2009 UOA published the results of their Health Needs Assessment. This staff survey was undertaken to help the University improve the health and wellbeing of its staff by ensuring a healthier, safer and supportive working environment. One of the main themes of this report was Physical Activity. Questions included:

  • How many days do you accumulate 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per week?
  • Would you like to be more active than you are at present?
  • What could your workplace do to support you to become more active?

The content of this statement of intent has been in part guided by the results from the above questions. 


Physical inactivity is a serious risk to health and it is one of the biggest preventable risk factors for chronic disease within men and women. Inactivity carries a risk for Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) which is roughly equivalent to the risk of smoking, having high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Inactive people have twice the risk of suffering from CHD compared to their active colleagues.

At least 70% of the UK population fail to do enough physical activity to benefit their health. In addition to protecting an individual from CHD, being moderately active on a regular basis can:-

  • Significantly improve mental health by helping to control or reduce stress and anxiety
  • Offer protection against obesity, osteoporosis, diabetes and some forms of cancer
  • Maintain functional ability for older people
  • Plus there are many social benefits for all ages

Basic recommendations from American College Sports Medicine and American Heart association (last updated 2007):

  • Do moderately intense cardio 30 mins a day, five days a week


  • Do vigorously intense cardio 20 mins a day, 3 days a week


  • Do 8 to 10 strength-training exercises 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise twice a week.

Moderate-intensity physical activity means working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break sweat, yet still being able to talk comfortably. 


  1. To promote and encourage employee participation in regular, moderate physical activity.
  2. Increase opportunities for physical activity around the workplace, helping employees incorporate physical activity into their daily routine.


  1. Raise awareness of health related benefits of physical activity and health risks of physical inactivity.
  2. Educate employees concerning types and amount of activity necessary to benefit health.
  3. Advertise and promote opportunities for participation in health-related physical activity. 
  4. Provide educational leaflets and resource information on health related activity.
  5. Through ongoing analysis of the population, establish barriers to physical activity and bring forward initiatives to support change


  • Provide staff seminars on the benefits of activity and the risks of inactivity.
  • Hold promotional events
  • Use health-related promotional and motivational resources to encourage employees to make active choices i.e. posters reminding people to use the stairs instead of the lift.
  • Map out walking trails or routes within the grounds or local area and publicise them with times and distances.
  • Provide information on local sports and leisure facilities, classes and clubs.
  • Develop effective communication to all staff to relay general health, physical activity and exercise advice guidance, including information on the website, with links as appropriate and an online newsletter.
  • Free corporate off-peak sports membership for all staff
  • Discounted full sports membership for all staff
  • Free staff-only classes at Aberdeen Sports Village
  • Provide opportunity to use facilities for free at set times during the week. (activities include; indoor football pitch, tennis courts, squash courts and badminton courts)
  • Establish badminton, football, squash and tennis ladders/leagues for friendly fun competition.
  • Organise annual sports activity days i.e. table tennis tournament
  • Continue to develop walk/jog/run program
  • Provide flexible lunchtimes or working hours to allow physical activity participation before, during or after the working day
  • Provide safe storage racks for bicycles
  • Provide showering and/or changing facilities (where feasible)
  • Detail or advertise local public transport routes to work

Review and Monitoring

All employees will be made aware of this statement by:

  • Informing employees at induction
  • A global email message to all staff
  • Briefings for managers who will circulate it to those with limited access to IT
  • Publication on the University's Healthy Working Lives webpage
  • Information leaflets on notice boards

This statement will be reviewed annually.

Relevant Resources