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Britain's fittest workforce

Arms of a postman, legs of a farmer and abs of a nurse

16 Sep 2015

Arms of a postman, legs of a farmer and abs of a nurse – Virgin Active reveals Britain’s fittest workforce

- Postmen are Britain’s fittest workforce burning 1,500 calories per working day

- Farmers and nurses complete top three fittest workforces in the nation 

- Call centre workers and travel agents are Britain’s least active workforces 

- Brits spend one day a week sitting at their desks, bankers are the worst offenders 

- Research by Virgin Active into levels of activeness across the UK workforce

A day working as a postman or courier burns almost 1,500 calories and is the equivalent to running for almost two hours on a treadmill, making them Britain’s fittest workforce according to new research by Virgin Active. They are closely followed by farmers and nurses who on average, burn 1,284 and 1,104 calories per work day respectively.

Top five fittest workers:

1. Postmen (1,456 calories at work)
2. Farmers (1,284)
3. Nurses (1,104)
4. Caterers (1,078)
5. Retail (1,054)

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the nation’s least active workers are call centre staff in the utilities sector who burn on average, just 804 calories each working day.

As a nation, Brits spend over half (50 per cent) of their working day sitting down, that’s the equivalent of 4 hours and 48 minutes a day and a whopping 24 hours and 24 mins a week. A startling one in ten inactive workers stay sat down for 100 per cent of their working day.

The findings have been released as Virgin Active launches a multi-media advertising campaign celebrating the talents of its own staff for the first time.

Keen to shine a light on the fitness levels of the British workforce, Virgin Active’s staff will be suggesting simple ways to increase activeness during the working day, from power walking to speak to a colleague instead of emailing, to standing on one leg while you make the tea, to practicing squats at the photocopier or sitting on a Swiss Ball to challenge your core. For instance, just another 10 minutes on your feet each day will burn around another 50 calories, while taking the stairs over the same time could remove another 109 calories.

The research also revealed that just over one third (34 per cent) of the UK workforce need to walk every day as part of their jobs. Of this 34 per cent, the average time spent on their feet is just shy of three hours a day (2 hours and 50 minutes).

The hospitality industry clocks up the most steps spending four and a half hours striding through their workplace. They even walk further than staff from the UK’s largest retailers who spend on average, 4 hours and 42 minutes pacing the aisles.

Very few of the British workforces break a sweat at work, just seven per cent are required to run at work. Of those workers that are required to move at speed, farmers top the table clocking up an average of three hours fifteen minutes jogging or running per day.

Least active workers:

1. Call centre staff (804 calories at work)
2. Travel agents (895)
3. Charity workers (912)
4. University lecturers (913)
5. Lawyers (921)

Andy Birch, head of exercise and wellbeing at Virgin Active comments: “It’s alarming how many Brits sit for long periods of time at work compared to sitting, standing typically burns around 50 calories an hour more. Bad news for bankers who our research shows are the most sedentary workforce sitting for on average, six hours a day. 

“This calorie difference doesn’t sound much but it quickly adds up over time. Five hours a day on your feet equals 250 calories a day and 1,250 a week. Over the course of a working year that’s around 60,000 calories burnt which in activity levels is like running over 10 marathons!” 

Builders and construction workers spend on average four hours a day lifting, twice as long as the next most active workforces, farmers and shop assistants, who flex their muscles for two hours a day. 

In a bid to bring more activeness into the workplace, almost three quarters (73 per cent) of workers always take the stairs over the lift. On average, Brits climb six flights of stairs every working day burning up to 90 calories per climb. 

Hugh Hanley, national personal training manager at Virgin Active comments: “Looking at this research it shows that some work roles are naturally energetic and healthy whilst others need to look at adding more activity in order to burn more calories and add a level of fitness to their day.

“During September Virgin Active will be focusing on how we can give our best advice to help members of the public identify and add activity to their daily routines. This could be small steps such as standing on one leg while you make a coffee or sitting on a Swiss Ball, to large steps such as going for a run in your lunch break, it will all depend on what your goal is.”