No rest for CP Active in 2017

Written by Richard Eccles

We have been busy!
The last few months have been an exciting and busy time for us here at CP Active. We’ve been out and about, talking about Environmental Nudges at national events, analysing the data from our pilot project, writing our stakeholder report and planning for future ‘disruptions’ to health behaviour through changing the architecture of buildings and using digital technology.

Back in January we spoke at the Suffolk Most Active County event and shared some ideas around the impact of placing nudges in community spaces. We learnt about the Good Gym initiative  enabling runners to help less able people in their communities, particularly the elderly. Good Gym co-ordinates runners to ‘stop off’ on their runs and do good deeds and physical tasks within communities including helping older people who feel isolated with one-off tasks. Currently running in 37 areas of the UK there are many more in proposal. Go online and see where you can use your exercise sessions to help others.

We spoke with Living Streets  – the UK charity for ‘everyday walking’ and found out about the innovative work they do with schools and communities to get people walking more. We also found out more about the One Life Suffolk partnership  helping people to stop smoking, lose weight and become fitter. This approach demonstrates the level of joined up thinking which is necessary to help shift communities and cultures into healthier lifestyles.

At the end of March we spoke at the Active Working summit in London. It was a privilege to hear Joanna Frank talk about the work she has done in North America with the Center for Active Design  and the introduction of Fitwel (a checklist to assess workplace health). Our presentation focused on our research which revealed that employees struggle to balance the pressures of work, responsibilities and the additional motivation or ‘willpower’ needed to make healthy choices (as they perceived it).

It was interesting to hear a different perspective on the ‘sit/stand’ desk debate. We learned that perhaps movement and a break from the desk altogether are much healthier practices than simply standing alone.

We attended The Contribution of Green Spaces to Health and Wellbeing in Yorkshire event at Leeds Beckett University in June. This was effectively the start of what will become a seminal conversation and movement around the role of green spaces for a multitude of benefits across health and wellbeing. There was a strong economical case presented for the provision of green spaces across the UK.

We have also partnered with Gagarin architects in Halifax to begin our discussions around the development of a healthy building/organisation audit which could be rolled out across the UK. Whilst in the early stages of discussion this partnership is, to our knowledge, one of the first in the UK, combining the knowledge of a contemporary firm of architects with academic and research expertise around health and wellbeing.

In August we finalised the first rough draft of our report ‘Environmental Nudges Intervention’. This will be available online soon and demonstrated the positive role of nudges within organisations and communities on health, as well as providing data on the immense pressure that respondents perceive they are under.

Insight into the daily struggle endured includes:
• multiple caring responsibilities
• stress around job security
• a sedentary and judgemental work culture
• general fatigue and apathy around increasing activity

Physical activity is perceived as stressful and something which requires intense motivation and therefore is rejected as a leisure activity, despite the fact that individuals know they should be active. Education is therefore not the issue.

The Environmental Nudges intervention was considered effective as the prompts allowed autonomy. Individual choice, responsibility and possibility were successful features of our prompts. Further work is needed to define how to create a more effective two phased approach as participants were uncertain about this element of the intervention and the role of the ‘subliminal’. Individuals have very sedentary daily patterns which underlines the pressing need for employers to utilise the working day as a space to increase activity.

CP Active, Leadership, Spaces, Workplace