If you spend most of your day sitting down, it’s important to look for opportunities to stand up and move. In this blog, Fit For Work Occupational Therapist Cathy Bloome talks about how we can get more movement into our working day and improve our health on the job.
Our bodies were designed to move and yet studies show the average person is sedentary (sitting) for more than seven hours a day. If you find this hard to believe, have a think about the activities that fill your day. Most of us sit: at work; driving; while eating, during leisure time, while watching TV or using home computers and devices. Outside of sleep that doesn’t leave us much room to move. You can use this sitting time calculator to see how your hours add up https://www.juststand.org/the-tools/sitting-time-calculator/.
All this sitting results in significant risk to our health. Non-communicable, lifestyle diseases are the number one cause of mortality worldwide, surpassing infectious diseases. Sedentary behaviour is linked to metabolic syndrome, Type 2 diabetes and even cancer. On a more basic level, this inactivity impacts not only our physical health, but also our energy levels and mental well-being.
But it is not all doom and gloom. Thankfully there are many simple changes we can make to get up, move more, and improve our health and well-being.
Here are some tips on how you can include more movement in your work day without decreasing productivity.
- Stand up when receiving or making a phone call. Many of us get several calls a day, from quick chats to conference calls. If you have the opportunity, take these calls while standing or if you have a head-set, even while you walk around.
- Instead of emailing a co-worker with a question, get up, walk over and have a chat. Moving across the office doesn’t just get your blood flowing, it gets you away from your screen.
- When someone comes to your desk, don’t offer them a seat, take a stand. It will be more comfortable to make eye contact and it may even turn into a walking meeting.
- If office equipment is not in reach then you need to get up more often to access the rubbish and recycle bins, or the printer.
- Staying well hydrated has lots of health benefits, including getting you out of your seat to fill and empty your glass.
- If you find that you get absorbed in your work and time slips by, try using a timer or app to remind you to take regular micro-breaks. There are many great, free applications available for your devices that can help with this. Many have features such as setting break duration, countdown timers, and alerts. Have a look through some of the options available here https://www.techrepublic.com/blog/five-apps/five-free-apps-to-help-remind-you-to-take-a-break/
Workplaces can also help influence positive change for employees. At the beginning of a meeting, the host can invite anyone who is more comfortable standing to do so. This is made easier and more natural if there is a café height table or standing height cabinet at the side or back of the room. Small and short meetings can and should be held while standing or even better, while walking. Providing café height tables in break rooms allow employees to choose to stand up while having a cuppa or meals. Employers can take the extra step of providing several electric height adjustable hot desks that employees can take turns at using.
While electric height adjustable sit/stand desks are beneficial when used properly, they are not necessary for all employees, if there are other opportunities for standing and moving in the office. The benefits can be prioritised depending on individual health needs, employee work demands and motivation. Research shows that proper training in how to use the desks improves safety, compliance and increases the return on investment.
If you think your workplace would benefit from having an occupational therapist visit to assess your workstations, or provide a presentation or consultation regarding decreasing sedentary behaviour, contact us to discuss your needs.
For more information and research about sedentary behaviour check out https://www.juststand.org