Employees prioritizing fitness benefits during pandemic: survey

While the majority (81 per cent) of Canadian employees say physical activity has a positive effect on their mental health, just 13 per cent say they exercise to improve or maintain their mental well-being, according to Telus Health’s latest mental-health index.

The survey, which polled more than 3,000 workers, found a third (33 per cent) said better sleep would help them manage their physical health, followed by access to affordable and nutritious foods (20 per cent), a convenient or safe place to exercise (15 per cent) and access to a family doctor (11 per cent).

Notably, workers aged 40 and younger were 80 per cent more likely than workers aged 50 and older to say access to affordable, nutritious foods would be most helpful in managing their physical health.

Read: Half of employees say trauma has had significant impact on mental health: survey

The index also found Canadians’ average mental-health score was 64.6 in April, a slight increase from March (64.3). The 37 per cent of respondents who said they’re in good physical health reported an average mental-health score of 75.6, while workers who said their physical health is in decline had an average score of 45.8. Some 10 per cent of employees said improvements in their mental health would assist them in managing their physical health and this group reported an average score of 50.5.

While nearly nine in 10 workers with a physical health issue said their employer is always or sometimes helpful in managing their work, the index found the average mental-health score of these respondents was roughly 50. Among workers with a physical health issue who said their employer isn’t helpful, the average mental-health score decreased to 46.2.

“The current data shows the connection between physical and mental health is not just recognized by academics, but also well understood by workers,” said Paula Allen, global leader of research and client insights at Telus Health, in a press release. “We see a clear comprehension of the value behind employer-led support of physical well-being and positive mental health. Employers should take note of this when considering their programs and services.”

Read: Regular exercise leads to better mental-health outcomes: study