April is the month of company sport in Estonia


Estonian Olympic Committee is celebrating company sport month in April, inviting people to engage in physical activity at work and with colleagues while encouraging employers to create fitness opportunities for employees. 

Photo by: Ardo Säks

According to Urmas Sõõrumaa, president of the Estonian Olympic Committee, there is a direct link between regular fitness activities and productive work. “People who keep moving regularly are healthier, stronger and happier; they also have a more positive outlook, can focus more efficiently and display better performance. So, regular fitness activities are useful for the employee and for the employer alike. During the company sport month which has just begun, we want to encourage everyone, alone or with the employer’s support, to find more opportunities for keeping fit in the workplace or in company with colleagues,” Sõõrumaa said. 

The EOC president made two further appeals to employers. “First, we suggest they make use of the opportunity to reimburse their employees’ fitness expenses, which can be done without paying a fringe benefit tax from this year on. Another thing is making the use of stairs instead of lifts in office buildings easier, for instance, by marking special walking routes to attract attention. The saying goes that there is a healthy mind in a healthy body!” Sõõrumaa noted. 

Marti Soosaar, member of the board of the Estonian Corporate Sports Association (Eesti Firmaspordi Liit), hopes that the company sport month will remind all companies that they need to promote employees’ health. “Many people spend eight hours a day in the workplace in a static position, often without a break for rather long periods at a time. This results in lower back pains and numerous other health issues. We would like to remind employers that this is their responsibility, too. Your employees are your most valuable asset nowadays. Do not let them rust away while they work for you; make sure to oil them regularly. I hope that the company sport month will remind employers about this simple truth and believe they will gladly welcome the initiative and organize some fun and easy sporting events for their staff,” Soosaar said. 

The company sport month is organized by the Estonian Olympic Committee, the association “Sport Kõigile” [Sports for All], the Estonian Corporate Sports Association and the Ministry of Culture. The campaign will feature a variety of events, and we urge everyone to participate as well as organize their own sporting and fitness activities in the workplace. All companies and organizations can register their sporting initiatives in the company sport month calendar at https://firmasport.ee/tookohaspordi-kuu-kalender/  . 

From 2 to 30 April the popular Walk2Work (Kondimootoriga tööle) campaign takes place, welcoming anyone to take part. It is not only walking that qualifies for the participation though but also Nordic walking, jogging, cycling, rollerblading and roller skiing. Which part of the road to work or back home to cover ‘on one’s locomotive’ is for the participant to decide. It is not the overall mileage that counts but regular exercise. More detailed information is available at https://kondimootor.ee 

On 9-13 April, the Spring Spartakiade will be held in Tallinn, allowing participants to challenge themselves, colleagues and employees of other companies in bowling, darts, chess, checkers, curling, stair in the SEB building, shooting and gym triathlon on workday evenings. More detailed information is available at https://firmasport.ee/kevad/uldjuhend/ 

On 26 and 27 April a company sport seminar in Toila will be held for heads of fitness clubs and HR managers of organizations as well as for the general public, discussing such topics as physical activity and fitness training, ergonomics and motivation. The results of various studies will be presented, and posture training, office fitness, office yoga and slackline workshops as well as many other activities will take place. The schedule and registration form are available at https://firmasport.ee/spordiseminar2018/  

The Stamina hobby walking and jogging series for corporate teams starts on 19 April. Additional information and registration: www.stamina.ee 

Company sport refers to physical activity performed during one’s working hours or supported by the employer. Its purpose is to improve the employee’s health as well as mental and physical well-being. Daily work routines do not provide sufficiently diverse physical activity; moreover, they can prevent it and even result in injury if the static positions or repetitive movements required in the working hours are not thoughtfully counter-balanced. The company sport month is a good opportunity for making changes for the better, investing in employees’ workplace ergonomics, office fitness and daily physical activity. Employees’ initiative for finding ways to incorporate physical activity in daily work, alone or with colleagues, is also welcome. 

What is company sport?

  • Office fitness and daily physical activity. Special breaks in the workplace meant for physical activity, which allow static positions or repetitive movements required by the nature of the work to be counter-balanced. This, for example, involves regular standing or walking breaks to leave one’s desk.
  • Office competitions, i.e., easy sporting challenges involving colleagues in the workplace. For example, step count challenges or an office table tennis or table soccer tournament. These aim to motivate employees to increase the amount of daily physical activity.
  •  Fitness compensation and fitness classes in the workplace. The purpose of compensating fitness expenses to employees or organizing office fitness classes lies in ensuring that employees can perform the amount of physical activity necessary in daily life. This results in better health (fewer days of sick leave) and improved performance (better focus and higher efficiency).
  • State-wide or international corporation competitions, which provide the company’s employees who are keen on sports with an opportunity to practice it and achieve results. The results demonstrated by the employees who practice competitive sports contribute to their motivation and set an example, which can increase the physical activity of other staff.
  • Workplace ergonomics is not directly linked to sport and fitness, but it is necessary to minimize the damage that might be caused by the body position required by the nature of the work and to prevent injury.