POOR work habits like not taking a break, staying late or eating lunch ‘al-desko’ are damaging the health of employees in South West England, physiotherapists are warning.

Almost one in five people (15 per cent) surveyed for the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) revealed they worked through their lunch every day.

Of those who do manage to take a break, 47 per cent said they ate at their desk.

Only 23 per cent leave their workplace to go outside for a break, and only one per cent goes to the gym, meaning most miss out on any kind of physical activity during the day. And 31 per cent of workers said their employer provided any kind of exercise opportunities, such as a subsidised gym membership, a lunchtime running club, or an after work fitness class.

The survey also found 46 per cent of people had to cancel exercise plans because of work, a third (33 per cent) said they started earlier or finished later than their contracted hours every day.

The CSP is calling on employers to find ways to support staff to be more physically active during the working day in order to reduce their risk of developing musculoskeletal problems like back and neck pain and more serious illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and stroke.

Prof Karen Middleton, chief executive of the CSP, said: “Full-time workers spend a significant bulk of their week at work, or travelling to and from it. Finding ways to build in time to do at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity, five times a week, can be a challenge.”