By Lauren Eisenhauer, Director of Marketing for Best Companies Group
You’re under a tight deadline and just brushed off your lunch crew for the third time this week to eat at your desk. You sit, eyes strained, back hunched over, ignoring the fact that it's been nearly four hours since you last stood up, walked around, or even stretched. This lack of movement during the workday is okay though, because you'll hit the elliptical hard later tonight, right? Sadly, it's not as simple as that.
I may have just described you, and I may have also just described the valuable employees who work for your company. Research has proven that lack of movement for extended periods of time, and specifically sitting, has a negative impact on overall health. Some have even gone so far as to dub sitting as "the new smoking." This impacts many in the workforce whose responsibilities demand sitting in front of a desk and screen for hours at a time. But, there are ways to encourage more movement for your employees-- to combat health risks and improve their overall wellness.
CNN cited a study of nearly 8,000 adults that found a direct correlation between time spent sitting and the risk of early mortality of any cause. The American Heart Association encourages us to simply "sit less, move more."
Encourage Employees to Get up and Move
The good news for those of us desk warriors is that there are some simple ways to combat the sitting epidemic. Below are 5 tips you can share with your employees to encourage them to stay active, even while in a sedentary office positions.
1. Invest in standing desks.
This alternative work station offers the flexibility for your employees to switch from sitting to standing mode and is becoming increasingly more popular.
2. Go the distance.
Employees can incorporate movement into day-to-day work responsibilities. Suggest using a printer that's located in another wing, a restroom on a separate floor, and getting up to walk to a colleague's desk to have a conversation rather than picking up the phone.
3. Break out the fitness equipment.
If you aren't able to provide an in-office gym for employees, handheld weights can be easily stored in desk drawers or offered for common employee use. Encourage light reps using the weights in between tasks or during breaks. Allow employees to use pedal exercisers under their desks for a workout that can be done without interrupting workflow at all.
4. Trade your chair for an exercise ball.
This popular seating alternative offers numerous benefits, including improvement of balance, posture, spine alignment, and even circulation. Allow or even offer provide exercise ball chairs to willing employees.
5.Walk and talk.
Lastly, encourage employees to take advantage of the opportunity to stand up, stretch or move around while on calls that do not require being on the computer. If you have a schedule touch base or one-on-one with a colleague, suggest a "walking meeting."
Employers Making Moves
Many companies are realizing that healthy employees are happier employees. Creating a work environment in which employees can maintain active lifestyles can help you improve employee engagement and satisfaction and strengthen your corporate culture. Below are some creative ways employers are encouraging more movement in the workplace.
Yoga and Tai Chi Classes
Ping Pong Tables
Fitness Membership Reimbursements
Daily Breathing and Stretching Reminders
It's powerful to know what your employees think! You can identify problems like poor supervision, communication breakdown, and mounting plans to leave your company before expensive turnover affects your business. Use this checklist for a quick read on your employee engagement.