UK (Cardiff Metropolitan University) Cardiff Met puts best foot forward to join initiative encouraging staff to wear trainers at work

Active Soles, described as a vibrant movement set to transform the way we work, aims to support teams to be more active by filling their workplaces with energy and motion.

People working in offices are spending up to 75% of their working hours sitting which increases their risk of a variety of health conditions including obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Evidence shows that even if you exercise regularly, but spend the majority of the rest of your day sitting down, you can still be at risk of the health problems associated with a sedentary lifestyle.

The public sector leaders involved believe Active Soles, can change the culture of workplaces by allowing employees to wear comfortable shoes they can move in more easily.

A statement by the team behind the initiative said: What we wear changes the way we think and behave. Wearing comfortable shoes means we are more likely to take build movement into our day by taking those extra steps, opting for the stairs instead of the lift, or arranging walking meetings.

The first organisations in Wales to get on board with Active Soles in Wales are Actif North Wales, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff Council, and Vale of Glamorgan Council.

Ben O’Connell, Director of Sport at Cardiff Metropolitan University, said: “Active Soles isn’t about setting a daily single target distance, as everyone has different health and fitness needs. Rather, this initiative allows people to incorporate movement during work time, in the attire, like comfortable shoes, that allows this to happen.

“At Cardiff Met, we want to make comfortable footwear and clothing the norm across the university to get staff moving, feeling healthier in their every day.”

The Active Soles team said it recognised that it is important in public facing roles – such as hospitals – for staff to look appropriately dressed. But it added that as there are a wide range of comfortable shoes on the market, including smart ‘corporate’ styles, makes cultural shift is more achievable than ever before.

For staff working in clinical roles, the principles of infection prevention and control and agreed uniform policies still need to be adhered to. In some other working areas, such as facilities and estates, current health and safety arrangements need to be maintained.

Fiona Kinghorn, Executive Director of Public Health at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, said: “Active Soles is a simple way to help employees move more throughout the day, especially those whose jobs mean they sit a lot. When people wear comfortable shoes, they’re more likely to get up and walk around, take the stairs instead of the lift, and stand up and stretch during meetings.

“In addition to the health benefits, Active Soles can also improve employee morale and productivity. Studies have shown that employees who are physically active are more likely to be engaged in their work, have lower stress levels, and take fewer sick days.”

Fiona added: “If you’re an employer, I encourage you to join the Active Soles movement. It’s a win-win for your employees and your organisation.”

Cardiff Council Leader, Cllr Huw Thomas, said: “Helping our staff make positive health and wellbeing choices has clear benefits, not just for their own personal wellbeing, but also for the residents we serve – the whole city benefits if staff working for Cardiff are fit and healthy. Backing Active Soles is another way we can support our staff and help them to build movement into their busy daily routines.”

The grand unveiling of Active Soles will take place during the one-year celebration event for the Move More Cardiff Physical Activity and Sport strategy at the Cardiff City Stadium on Monday, July 3, from 9.30am to 12.30pm. The event will celebrate physical activity and the joy of sports throughout the Welsh capital.

Are you an employer who believes in the power of an active workforce? Active Soles invites you to join the movement today. All organisations in Wales, regardless of size or industry, can take part itis designed to be flexible so it can be adapted to meet the needs of individual organisations. Please email or go to for more information.