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Fit For Life – Park Athlete: Improving team health, wellbeing and performance

In Australia, our Melbourne Parks and Gardens (MPG) team works in partnership with the City of Melbourne to maintain its green spaces and iconic sites. Managing 500 hectares throughout Melbourne, they are entrusted with care of the City and how it is seen and experienced by residents and millions of visitors every year.

In 2019 we launched a new health and wellbeing initiative for our MPG employees. The six-month ‘Fit For Life – Park Athlete’ programme provides holistic conditioning designed to improve team wellbeing and performance and includes:

  • onsite training led by a professional exercise physiologist;
  • personalised mobile app-based exercise programmes;
  • activity trackers;
  • health literacy programmes; and
  • additional clinical support.

The first participants in the programme were our MPG Turf and Sporting Grounds Team.

Serco Head of Safety, Environment and Wellbeing, Wade Needham said integrated physical and psychological conditioning is commonplace in elite sport and fitness training programmes: “When athletes and teams want to achieve at the highest levels they condition themselves for the specific demands of their sport to optimise their performance. We have taken these principles and contextualised them to our workplace to create this innovative programme.”

The positive impact on participants has been significant. For example, the team has seen improvement in:

  • average systolic blood pressure reduced from 144.5 to 127.0 mmHg;
  • trunk endurance (+14.2%), abdominal strength (+18.6%) and lumbar endurance (+9%); and
  • workplace engagement score increased 19 points compared to 2018.

“Our Turf and Sporting Ground Team are within a key health risk demographic for cardiovascular disease,” said Wade Needham. “We also wanted a programme that would help protect the team from lower back injuries, strains and issues associated with manual handling and equipment use. Park Athlete is vital in ensuring their health and wellbeing.”