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New WHO guide for small and medium-sized enterprises highlights benefits of physical activity for workplaces

WHO/Europe’s new guide aims to inspire health-enhancing physical activity (HEPA) within small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the WHO European Region. Every year, insufficient physical activity results in over 10 000 preventable deaths across the Region, and sedentary work environments are a huge part of this problem. Developed in collaboration with the HEPA Europe working group on workplace HEPA promotion, the new guide is designed specifically for smaller entities, and recognizes the challenges that they may be facing in comparison to their larger business counterparts.

99% of all businesses in the European Union (EU) are SMEs. They are often overlooked by health-promoting policies and initiatives and lack the resources or guidance to implement full-fledged physical activity programmes found in major corporate structures. However, recommendations in the new guide capitalize on one of the main advantages of the SMEs – their flexibility.

Too much time spent sitting down is a worrying health risk factor linked to heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and other noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). Together, these diseases are responsible for 90% of all deaths across the WHO European Region. Globally, increasing numbers of countries feel the need to promote more active lifestyles amid rising health concerns and awareness of the economic burdens of NCDs.