Cycling and walking can combat short-term illnesses like colds and flu, according to staff and students at University Wales in Cardiff (UWIC).
As the majority of UK employees returned to work this week approximately Two million workers called in sick – at an estimated cost to the economy of £302 million. According to the figures the cost to employers is an average of £600 per employee, with short term illness the most common cause for absence.
At UWIC initiatives like travel planning, bike pools and improved bike facilities on-site for cycles have resulted in more staff and students travelling more actively every day to and from campus. UWIC has seen a resultant significant reduction in sickness absence rates.
Employers and employees can now get access to a free online tool at www.sustrans.org.uk to help plan everyday journeys by bike, foot and public transport.
“Staff sickness can be a big cost to businesses, especially smaller ones," explained Sustrans’ National Active Travel coordinator Susie Lea. "Encouraging staff to travel actively to work is an easy way for employers to limit the cost of sickness. Walking and cycling can be a natural choice for local travel and a way we can exercise as part of our everyday lifestyles.
"UWIC is a great example of how helping people make simple changes can have a wider impact. Using Sustrans online mapping to plan everyday active journeys is a very accessible and cost-effective place to start.” Stuart Scott, Chair of the Workplace Health and Well-being Promotion Group added: “Over the past few years, UWIC staff have been encouraged to participate in a number of initiatives which promote green travel and healthy lifestyles.
"Since starting initiatives in 2007, we have seen a significant reduction in sickness absence rates across the university, suggesting that the implementation of such initiatives can and is having a positive impact upon both the University and the staff that work within it.”