The Active Workplace Programme was a three-week initiative to increase physical activity within an office worksite in Abu Dhabi. Twenty-four employees (10 male) were provided with a pedometer to monitor their daily step count which was recorded at the end of their shift. Employees were equally divided into two teams and competed over a number of daily and weekly pedometer-based physical activity challenges, ranging from a virtual footrace from Al Ain to Abu Dhabi to the Bmj Khalifa stair climbing contest. The office environment was modified to encourage physical activity and changes included transforming the main building thoroughfare into a dynamic walkway by installing various obstacles (e.g. minitrampolines, 12-inch hurdles, a hop scotch grid, step-up benches) and providing offices with stretching mats, Swiss balls, and cycle ergometers for employee use throughout the day. Each day of the week focussed on a different activity such as Walk & Talk Sunday when active meetings were promoted and Office Yoga Wednesday when employees were encouraged to participate in desk station yoga workouts.
Workplaces are important arenas for health promotion and the Active Workplace Programme can be implemented in any occupational setting allowing physical activity to be engineered into the daily work schedule without interfering with occupational duties.
Mean (± SD) daily step count increased from 4999 ± 3776 steps/day at baseline to 6482 ± 4674 steps/day at the end of the programme (P=.063, effect size = 0.34). The Active Workplace Programme increased ambulatory physical activity over a three week period and has shown that a pedometer offers a practical, while cost-effective approach to increasing daily physical activity in office-based employees.
Direct costs to the petroleum industry of morbidity attributed to non-communicable disease are rising; hence, workplace prevention programmes are urgently required. In addition to increasing occupational physical activity, implementing the Active Workplace Programme within the petroleum industry has a number of potential benefits for both the organisation and employees including reducing absenteeism and staff turnover, increasing productivity, and creating a healthier, happier workforce with enhanced staff morale and improved work- life balance.