Katie Bulmer-Cooke: Hospital gym for staff is a refreshing idea

Sunderland Royal Hospital.
Sunderland Royal Hospital.
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If you’re a regular reader of my column you’ll know that I like to bang the health and fitness drum on a regular basis, not just because I know the immensely positive impact it has had on my life, but because I have seen first-hand the huge benefits so many people have experienced, even by making the smallest changes to their lifestyle.

I’ve always believed in the benefits that a fitter, healthier workforce can bring businesses and organisations, from being more physically fit to improving mental health, so I was thrilled to be invited to see the newly refurbished staff gym at the hospital this week.

The facility, on Chester Road, now boasts an air conditioned gym with the latest TechnoGym equipment, a full range of group fitness classes and up to date changing facilities to allow staff to easily fit in their workouts before or after work.

It was a real pleasure to meet some of the staff members behind the project, and hear how enthusiastically they spoke about the new facilities and how they will help them and their colleagues lead fitter, healthier lifestyles.

It was refreshing to hear them speak about the wider benefits that employees will reap as a result of using the services, from improving productivity and mood at work to reducing sick days and boosting confidence.

The visit got me thinking … imagine if just five or even ten per cent more employers in the city took an active interest in their staff’s levels of health and well being.

I’m certain that even subtle changes would see us tackle our city’s horrendous, and let’s be honest, embarrassing obesity statistics.

Caring for employees in this way doesn’t have to be something that is reserved for large organisations like the hospital.

There are many things that even small businesses can do to encourage their staff to be more physically active, from subsidising gym memberships to starting lunch time walking groups and a whole lot more in between.

It can be very easy to get sucked into the day to day running of a business, focusing only on the company’s targets and goals, but behind every great organisation are great staff, who, when in good physical and mental health can achieve an awful lot.

With research now heavily supporting exercise and physical activity as an incredible way to improve both, it seems like a no brainer to make moving our bodies a priority.

I take my hat off to the hospital who have created something very special on-site for their staff, and even run a staff lottery to help fund the project.

They’ve clearly recognised the power of fitness, and I’m sure that the hospital staff will be mega impressed and engaged with their new facility.