Have you heard of the ‘sitting disease’?
Many of us sit at a desk or in meetings for most of the day, eating while we work, never taking a real break.
Sitting for hours a day has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and shorter lifespans.
Employers can improve workers’ health and reduce healthcare costs by taking a few simple steps to get people moving throughout the workday.
Walk the Talk
But employers can kick it up a notch by getting people moving while they work[i]. Some ideas to try:
- Walking meetings: Take a walk outside with one or two employees as you problem-solve, plan, or brainstorm. This gets the blood flowing, manages stress, boosts morale, and creates a culture of health.
- Take the stairs or walk to another building for your next large meeting. Skip the elevator when you’re just going a few floors. Allow employees time to take the stairs, walk, or bike to appointments. <insert picture of a StairWell campaign sign>
- Guide people in some light stretching at the beginning of a morning or post-lunch meeting, or during breaks of longer meetings.
- Allow employees to alternate between standing, sitting, and using an exercise ball at the desk or workstation.
- Encourage employees to get up and walk to each other’s offices and talk face-to-face, rather than sending another email.
- In call centers or similar workplaces, encourage employees to stand and stretch while they talk on the phone, or take a quick break once an hour to walk to the bathroom or get a glass of water, coffee, or tea.
It’s especially important for managers to set the tone. If you take the stairs, ask your employees to walk with you, bike to work, or switch out your chair for a balance ball, your employees will feel empowered.
HealthScaping NW can walk you through the steps of adopting policies that get employees moving.
Include a number of incentives for physical activity in your employee benefits package, including: gym subsidies, flex-time, public transportation passes (which encourage walking and biking to and from transit stops), as well as fitness coaching or on-site exercise facilities.
The Bottom Line
Small changes that promote physical activity at work add up to big rewards in reducing employees’ obesity, chronic diseases, stress, turnover, and health care costs[ii].
Worksite wellness programs produce a great Return on Investment: Worksite weight loss programs are cost-effective, producing a savings of $1.44 to $4.16 for every pound lost[iii].
[i] Guide to Community Preventive Services. Environmental and policy approaches to increase physical activity: creation of or enhanced access to places for physical activity combined with informational outreach activities. (2011). www.thecommunityguide.org/pa/environmental-policy/improvingaccess.html.
[ii]Guide to Community Preventive Services. The Community Guide in Action: Investing in Worksite Wellness for Dow Employees. (March, 2012). http://www.thecommunityguide.org/CG-in-Action/Worksite-Dow.pdf
[iii] Guide to Community Preventive Services. Obesity prevention and control: worksite programs. www.thecommunityguide.org/obesity/workprograms.html.