Healthy Workplace: Staying Active

Mounting research suggests that sitting slumped over your computer for 8 hours a day isn’t a healthy habit. This isn’t a huge shock to most people. However, the severity of the health threat is somewhat shocking. One attention-getting headline calls sitting “the smoking of our generation,” and research has linked daily inactivity to everything from back problems to diabetes to heart disease. Yikes! Certainly the office isn’t the only culprit (I personally lounge plenty in my off-hours as well), but encouraging employees to be active during the workday is a win-win situation for everybody. Employees get a little healthier, and employers save a little in sick days and healthcare costs. Sound good? Here are some ways to encourage activity for employee wellness.

Print Away

Encourage employees to send their documents to a printer that is farther away from them—across the office, or even on a different floor. Some may be reluctant to do this because it might seem like they are wasting time. But, with permission and encouragement, employees will pick up the healthy habit. The extra time spent running to the printer will pay off in increased productivity and employee wellness.

Set a Timer

Research shows that just standing up and stretching every 20 minutes or so is a great healthy habit. However, it is easy to get engrossed in a project and not move for an hour or more. Consider providing (discreet!) timers to go off at intervals as reminders to get up and stretch or take a short lap around the office. A checklist of times (10:00, 10:30, etc.) would also make a good alternative.

Designated Walking Breaks

Breaks are mandatory at work, so pass around a sign-up for employee wellness groups that can go walking together during morning and afternoon breaks—even lunch time. Walking with a buddy is more fun than being the only one trudging out to the sidewalk!

Walking Meetings

If you followed the link at the beginning of the article, you saw Nilofer Merchant’s idea of going on walks during meetings. This is a great healthy habit; instead of sitting around a table for an hour, walk and talk. Employees will get real exercise, and Merchant even reports clearer thinking and better productivity while being active.

Standing/Treadmill Desks

Standing desks and treadmill desks are becoming increasingly popular. They are a great way to help employees stay active and work simultaneously. However, they show up at the end of this list because they are the only suggestion that would cause real planning and initial investment on the part of the office. There is no excuse to not encourage one or more of these healthy habits at your office today. A friendly email of encouragement is all it takes to improve employee wellness! Good luck, and get moving!

How do you encourage employee wellness and healthy habits? Leave a comment below, or send me a tweet: @ithinkther4iamb

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by KOMUnews

  • rorytrotter86

    As always, great post Kristin.
     
    When I first started working I recognized what an awful impact sitting down all day was having on my health. I’ve been getting up and taking walking breaks every hour or so the past few months, and it’s resulted in a great improvement in the way I feel while in the workplace.
     
    Your printer idea is also pretty good. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.
     
    Best,
     
    Rory

    • @rorytrotter86 Glad you liked the post Rory!
       
      I’ve been experiencing the same issue with sitting and what it does to my back. At least you’re seeing some progress.