Working out at workplaces gets thumbs up

Employees at Mapletree Business City playing in a futsal match. The development also has basketball courts, a jogging track and fitness stations.
Employees at Mapletree Business City playing in a futsal match. The development also has basketball courts, a jogging track and fitness stations.PHOTO: MAPLETREE INVESTMENTS
At Mapletree Business City, one of the dedicated healthy workplace ecosystems, foodcourts offer healthier choices in the form of low-calorie meals.
At Mapletree Business City, one of the dedicated healthy workplace ecosystems, foodcourts offer healthier choices in the form of low-calorie meals.ST PHOTO: LINETTE LAI

Activities under HPB scheme have boosted staff well-being, say landlords

What do Singapore's healthiest workplaces look like?

Think mass workouts, low-calorie meal options, regular health screenings and even terrarium-building workshops to calm the soul.

These healthy workplace ecosystems, as they are known, are part of a tie-up between the Health Promotion Board (HPB) and private-sector landlords.

One was first set up in Mapletree Business City four years ago. Today, 17 of Singapore's largest landlords are on board - including Keppel Land, CapitaLand and Sentosa Development Corporation.

Under the programme, companies within a cluster can give employees access to workplace health schemes without having to fund them. HPB co-funds the scheme, organising health and fitness programmes, while its partners provide refreshments, manpower and other resources needed to host them.

No official participation rates are available, with landlords reporting a wide range of figures.

  • 17

  • Number of Singapore's largest landlords on the HPB programme. Under the scheme, firms within a cluster can give staff access to workplace health schemes without having to fund them.

For instance, CapitaLand said about 30 employees join workouts, such as one-hour body combat sessions, at Capital Tower each week.

City Developments said 1,000 people from three of its properties have taken part in programmes under the initiative - such as lunchtime talks - since last month.

Mr Sim Beng Khoon, director of the workplace health outreach division at HPB, said: "Given the time that many adult Singaporeans spend at the workplace, companies and organisations are in an ideal position to positively impact their employees' health."

In one of its largest studies on obesity in Singapore, the HPB recently revealed that the proportion of overweight people in the population begins to grow from age 21 - when many people start full-time work.

This effect was particularly pronounced among men, who typically put on 4kg within a decade of starting work.

So, intervention at that crucial stage could help keep workers from bloating into the overweight and obese ranges.

Landlords told The Straits Times that activities organised under the HPB scheme have helped to improve staff well-being.

City Developments started out with low-impact programmes such as yoga, before introducing more physically demanding ones such as kick-boxing.

Its spokesman said having a healthy workplace means a "vibrant and productive workforce".

A Keppel Land spokesman said participation has been "increasing steadily" since it started the scheme at Bugis Junction Towers last year. To date, he added, over 1,000 people have taken part in the events - which range from yoga to cooking demonstrations.

At Mapletree Business City, foodcourts offer healthier food choices in the form of low-calorie meals.

The development also has basketball and futsal courts, a jogging track and fitness stations.

Mr Luo Wei, 28, who visits the gym at Mapletree Business City every day, said he enjoys having such facilities so close at hand.

"It's like spending on medical insurance," said the agricultural trader. "What more going to the gym and spending on your health?"

Mr Ron Leow, 30, who works as a human resource officer at Viva Business Park, said: "It's quite convenient for the people here to go to the gym after work."

He added: "It's quite different from my previous workplace, which was more of a corporate building."

Workout sessions and futsal games are regularly organised there. The business park is also home to a True Fitness gym and sporting goods store Decathlon.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2017, with the headline 'Working out at workplaces gets thumbs up'. Print Edition | Subscribe