Injuries caused by workers trying to follow a new year’s fitness resolution have led to a big increase in sickness absence in the past few weeks, according to new research.

The problem of over-ambitious exercise regimes is causing headaches for employers having to deal with staff taking time off to recover, it was warned.

Physiotherapy provider Physio Med said over-eager fitness enthusiasts and sporting novices trying to get fit in the new year were leading to an increase in injuries.

A survey of 2,000 chartered physiotherapists found that appointments had increased by up to 50% in recent weeks, mainly to deal with injuries related to exercise and sport.

Mark Fletcher, clinical director at Physio Med, said: “Musculoskeletal injuries are currently the number one reason for long-term sickness absence in the workplace, and in the current climate that is bad news for both businesses and employees.

“We may be well into 2012 now but our physiotherapists are continuing to see the effects of over-enthusiastic New Year fitness campaigns, as their appointment books fill up with new injuries.

“Within the healthcare industry we obviously encourage physical exercise but a sudden increase in physical activity – such as a new fitness campaign – should always be approached with caution.

“To avoid workout injuries and therefore time potentially laid up and unable to work, it’s important to start a new regime slowly, take advice and build up the intensity of activity gradually.”