The WELL Building Standard - Fitness Concept

26 Nov 2020

health & wellbeing

In a recent study conducted by POS, a staggering 60.54% of respondents in Guernsey said the design of their workplaces did not encourage them to be physically active.

The stats
It is recommended that all healthy adults engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity 5 days per week and muscle-strengthening training at least 2 days per week. However, in the United States alone, fewer than 50% of elementary school students, 10% of adolescents and 5% of adults obtain 30 minutes of daily physical activity.

WELL Building Standard – Fitness Concept

Many health problems can be prevented by having a healthy lifestyle. One of the core concepts to the WELL Building Standard, a dynamic building rating system designed to improve the health and wellbeing of people in the built environment, is fitness. The aim of the fitness concept is to encourage the integration of physical activity into the everyday life of building occupants. The features in the fitness concept promote strategies for integrating and supporting physical activity by utilising building design, accommodating fitness regimens and providing the space and opportunity for an active lifestyle.

Some of the features and strategies of the fitness concept include:

Interior Fitness Circulation

One of the easiest and most convenient ways of increasing fitness in the built environment, such as a commercial office building, is stair climbing.  Strategies to encourage stair climbing include:

Stair accessibility and promotion - signage at lift banks should encourage stairway use and assist building occupants in locating a compliant stairway.

Facilitative aesthetics - elements such as artwork, feature walls and lighting make stair use more appealing.

Activity Incentive Programmes

This precondition requires employers to develop a fitness incentive plan that covers all employees.  Employers use the plan to provide their employees with reimbursements or subsidies to promote various healthy activities, such us meaningful incentive payments offered for every six-month period that an employee meets a 50-visit minimum to a gym or physical activity programme. Other incentives may include smoking cessation programmes, wellness screenings and wellness coaching. Some companies utilise wearable fitness trackers for voluntary company-wide wellness competitions.

Wellness Fact
A Harvard University study discovered that average employee healthcare costs fell by $3.27 for every $1.00 spent on wellness programmes.

Physical Activity Spaces

Building occupants who seek fitness opportunities should be provided with dedicated spaces for physical activities all year-round, regardless of weather conditions. A designated space with complimentary access will help building occupants maintain a consistent exercise programme due to its convenience.

The stats
Over 60% of all people worldwide do not get the recommended daily 30-minute minimum of moderate-intensity physical activity.

Active Transportation Support

Active transportation is a form of commuting by way of a physical activity such as biking or walking. Active transportation is associated with multiple health benefits and can reduce green-house gas emissions. Strategies to encourage active transportation include:

Bicycle storage & support – this feature requires that bicycle maintenance tools and both short and long-term bicycle storage be available for occupant use.

Post commute & workout facilities – when building occupants are provided with shower facilities and lockers for use onsite, they are more likely to consider active transportation or participation in other fitness activities.

Active Furnishings

Many jobs require a person to staff a workstation. Staffing a workstation usually involves sitting in a chair for the entire workday. This sedentary behaviour can cut years from a person’s life expectancy. Sitting slows the circulation of blood through the body and can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and obesity.

The stats
Physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for mortality, accounting for 6% to 9% of deaths worldwide, or 3 million to 5 million mortalities.

One of the biggest ways employers can help to protect employees from sedentary behaviour is to furnish their office with predominantly standing desks – this feature of the fitness concept requires that 60% of all workstations have either an adjustable-height standing desk, a standard desk with desktop height adjustment stand, or pairs of fixed-height desks of standing and seated heights.

The stats
Sitting burns 50 fewer calories per hour than standing, and sitting for more than 3 hours per day is associated with a 2-year lower life expectancy.

The WELL Building Standard

A dynamic rating system for the built environment that combines best practices in design and construction with evidence-based health and wellness interventions, the WELL Building Standard is a significant new development for the Building Industry. The WELL Building Standard is the culmination of research and development by leading professionals in medicine, science, and the green building and construction industry.  The overall aim of the WELL Building Standard is to improve and protect the health and wellness of building occupants.

Contact us to discover more about the WELL Building Standard and see how we utilise its features to design and build inspiring spaces that improve the health and wellbeing of people within the built environment.



Figure 1: - Design By VOA (now Stantec), Photography by Ari Burling, Figure 2: - Design by Gensler, Photography by Garrett Rowland, courtesy of Gensler, Figure 3:, Figure 4: - Design by Nigel Scorer (Contents Design), Figure 5:, Figure 6:, Figure 7:, Figure 8: The Swedish Sports Confederation - Idrottenshus – Project - 2018-10-24 by Richard Ferris, Figure 9: Designer: POS Interiors, Photography by POS Interiors, Figure 10: Designer: Peter Opsvik Photographer: Per Gunnarson Styling interior: Alessandro d’Orazio & Jannicke Kråkevik.