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Tired Toes: Which sectors spend the most time on their feet?

33.17 million. That’s the number of people who are currently working in the UK. For many adults, the working day doesn’t consist of massive amounts of physical movement. Rather, we’re sitting at desks, trying to get our steps in one way or another. But what about people who work in non-desk-based sectors like hospitality, healthcare, or construction?

Here at Altro, we know there’s one thing these sectors all have in common, despite how different their roles are: the amount of time spent on their feet.

To help uncover just how much time non-desk-based workers in the UK are spending on their feet at work, we’ve surveyed over 500 workers from across different high step sectors. These workers told us all about the number of steps they clock up at work each day and the effects of this, allowing us to reveal which sectors have the highest step counts.

Check out the full results of our survey below.

Which sector in the UK takes the most steps at work?

We’ve all heard of the 10,000 steps a day rule, but previous NHS figures show that the average person in the UK only walks between 3,000-4,000 steps per day.

However, our research found that the average non-desk-based worker in the UK clocks up roughly 10,393 steps on the average working day - that’s almost 3 times more than the average Brit!

Of these non-desk-based workers, our research shows prison & defence service workers have the highest number of average daily steps at work, at around 13,151 steps per day.

Following closely behind are retail workers, who are navigating the shopfloor and assisting customers with an average of 10,945 steps each working day.

Take a look below at the average steps daily working steps of non-desk-based workers by sector and how this compares to the average Brit:


How far could the UK’s non-desk-based workers travel each year with their steps?

Whilst 10,000 or so steps a day might seem normal to some people, when you look at the steps walked in a full year - or even over an entire career - non-desk-based workers in the UK are clocking up some serious mileage. Curious to find out how far their steps could take them? Don’t worry, we’ve already handled the calculations.

Looking at each sector’s average daily steps at work, we’ve worked out the total number of steps this would amount to over their entire career. We found that non-desk-based workers walk approximately 10,393 steps per day - working out to a whopping 2,702,108 steps over the working year.

That’s a huge 1,792,108 working steps more each year than the average person.

This means that the average non-desk-based worker in the UK could be walking as many as 98,626,942 steps or around 44,175.95 miles over the course of their career. That’s enough steps to walk the circumference of the Earth almost 2 times!

Take a look at our breakdown below of how far each sector walks at their work each year and how vast these distances really are:


What are the effects of physical activity at work?

But how does this affect the employees? Whilst 76% of non-desk-based workers told us that they think the time spent on their feet at work is positive for their mental well-being, there was a consistent trend spotted throughout our research: missing out on social events.

When it comes to our social lives away from work, it’s always important to ensure a solid work-life balance, but our research found that almost two-thirds (60%) of non-desk-based workers say they regularly skip out on recreational activities such as hobbies or meeting up with friends as a result of being tired from work. What’s more, 51% of non-desk-based workers told us that they regularly leave social events early because they’re tired from work.

Healthcare workers are the worst for skipping out on things like meeting up with friends because they’re tired from work (70%), with construction and trade workers most likely to leave events early (59%).

While missing out on social activities is a common theme for non-desk-based workers, we also found that as many as 60% of non-desk-based workers say they also regularly skip out on exercise because they’re tired from work - with retail workers doing this most (67%).

As a solution to combating tiredness from work, our study shows that 7 in 10 (70%) of non-desk-based workers say they drink caffeinated drinks to ‘keep them going’ at work, with those working in prison & defence services doing this the most (27%).

Worryingly, over three-quarters (76%) say that they don’t drink as much water as they should when at work and another two-thirds (62%) say they often skip meals at work because they’re too busy with other work tasks. Ironically, skipping meals at work is most common with hospitality workers, with 73% saying they often do this.

Safety in the workplace: Taking time off for workplace injuries

Whilst most non-desk-based workers told us they enjoy the time spent on their feet at work, 4 in 5 (81%) told us they rarely get a chance to sit down during their shift.

With these high levels of physical activity, the results of our survey raised walking safety at work concerns with the flooring choices.

Almost two-fifths (39%) of non-desk-based workers surveyed think the flooring at their workplace puts them more at risk for slipping or tripping while at work, highlighting an essential need for safer environments to prevent employees being injured at work.

Take a look below at some of the ways time spent on their feet effects non-desk-based workers physically:


As a result of their aches and pains from the time spent on their feet at work, a quarter of non-desk-based workers (25%) said they have consulted professional medical advice for pains.

What’s more, 1 in 7 (13%) have bought orthopaedic work shoes because the floor at their work isn’t comfortable for them to stand on for an entire shift.

How can Altro safety flooring help?

The results of our research show that many sectors may be lacking in providing a secure and safe working environment for their employees.

So, when it comes to spending time on our feet at work, especially to the extent that non-desk-based workers do, it’s important that employers ensure they are comfortable and protected from potential injuries at work.

At Altro, we take pride in ourselves knowing that we provide the best quality safety flooring solutions for a variety of sectors around the globe.

Here are some ways we do it:

Adhesive-free flooring: With our adhesive-free flooring, we strive for comfort underfoot so that those working in these high-step sectors can leave their work without the added stress of feeling physically sore or achy.

Our adhesive-free floors are also designed to avoid the need for a moisture barrier to subfloors which may be damp, and create an airspace to allow for any moisture to evaporate.

Receive 3-in-1 benefits, by saving up to 50% CO2, 50% time of installation, and 35% of the cost.

Slip-resistant flooring: This type of safety flooring is engineered specifically with slip risks in mind, especially in high traffic environments.

Our safety flooring involves aggregates during production, ensuring the reduced impact of any contaminants on the surface, and with our ‘One in a Million’ slip risk for life guarantee, it reduces the likelihood of anyone slipping on Altro safety flooring to, literally, one in a million.


Survey: The research was conducted via a 3Gem survey of 500 people aged 18+ who work in specific sectors. The survey was conducted between 02.02.2024 - 15.02.2024.

Steps to miles calculations: All steps to miles calculations were done via this online calculator. The calculator requires you to put in a height for an accurate calculation. In the UK, the average man is 5ft 8in (175.3cm) tall and the average woman is 5ft 3in tall (161.6cm), making the average person around 168.45cm or roughly 5ft 6in tall.

The online calculator offers an estimated range of miles for the steps inputted, so we then took the median figure of the range of miles the calculator offered.

Calculations for steps over work year/ career: The average full time worker works 260 days in a year, so all calculations for the number of steps taken in a year were based on this figure. The average person in the EU works for 36.5 years.