Have you ever got up from your office chair after hours of sitting, and surprised yourself with how much time has passed since you last stood up? If this is typical for you and your employees, you all may be at risk of Sitting Disease.
Sitting Disease involves the negative health effects of inactivity, or over-sitting. Research has found that it is harmful to sit for long periods of time throughout the day. Our sedentary lifestyle of sitting more than half our day can increase the likelihood of a heart attack as much as a person who smokes.
Sitting Disease is a syndrome whereby your metabolism is lowered. This can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
By simply spending a few more hours standing in our day, our health can be greatly improved. In fact, life expectancy may increase by about 2 years if we all reduced sitting to less than 3 hours a day. I’ve outlined a few tips to help prevent sitting disease for you and your employees in your workplace:
Stretch at your Desk
- Employees should spend no more than one hour sitting at their desk without getting up and moving. Your staff can do quick, easy and readily available stretches while at their desk either sitting or standing.
Talking and Walking
- Talking on the phone in the office is a necessary part of the job, so encourage staff that when the phone rings, try standing or walking around while talking. If appropriate, see if headsets can be accommodated in your office.
- Setting an “alarm” on their computer or cellphone on an hourly basis can remind employees to get up and stretch, or to go for a short walk around the office. For some, incorporating a standing desk for their computer could be of great benefit.
- Provide employees with a pedometer to count their steps. Friendly competition among groups of coworkers can be created through weekly awards (i.e. juice bar or sport apparel gift certificates) to whomever is the most physically active in the group.
Don’t Always Bring Lunch to the Office
- As odd as it may sound, encourage your employees to go for a walk to buy a sandwich for lunch, or to take a break during the day and go outside for a walk.
Skip the Ride
- Suggest to your staff that after lunch is a great time to take the stairs to get back to the office instead of taking the elevator. If the office is located higher than the third floor, you could always suggest walking up a few flights and riding the elevator the rest of the way.
From standing on the subway to work, to going for a walk at lunch, to standing during TV commercials instead of relaxing on the couch, we can all find ways to incorporate physical movement to avoid Sitting Disease.