Many employees spend eight to ten hours each day seated, hunched over their computer screen, involved in tasks that require intense focus and limited movement.
Although computers have transformed businesses of all sizes, they have also led to a rise in sedentary jobs. This shift has led to a decline of movement in the workplace and brought with it new health concerns and bad habits. A growing amount of research shows that increased time spent sitting and obesity are taking years off our lives.
A recent poll by EMPLOYERS® looked at ergonomics in small business workplaces and found that 77 percent of small businesses do not provide non-traditional seating options such as stand-up desks or balance balls to employees, despite research showing that sitting for extended periods of time can lead to increased risks of heart disease, cancer and other ailments. The survey also found that 42 percent of small businesses do not provide monitor stands to improve the posture and comfort of employees who primarily work on computers.
Here are a few ways you and your employees can be healthier in a sedentary work environment:
Get up and stretch at least every 30 minutes
Set a reminder on your phone or calendar to get up at regular intervals during the day. The EMPLOYERS survey found that 23 percent of employees often wait up to three or four hours before taking a break. If leaving your desk at regular intervals isn't an option, stand up during phone calls.
Eat healthy and snack less
When you’re seated at a desk all day, it is easy to get in a habit of mindless snacking. If you do feel like snacking, bring in fresh fruits and vegetables to munch on. They are healthier than candy or chips. If your office has a vending machine, your company can even request a higher percentage of healthy options from its supplier.
Eat lunch away from your desk
It is also common to sit and eat lunch at your desk. However, try to make an effort to leave your desk a few times a week.
Take walking meetings
When you work in an office environment, meetings can often take up a large portion of your day. Whenever possible, suggest walking meetings instead of seated conference room meetings.
Take the stairs instead of the elevator
Taking the stairs instead of the elevator is a great way to be more active at work.
Exercise as a team
Make a commitment to exercise regularly while encouraging team bonding and healthy competition. Start a fitness club at work and schedule walks, runs, or other forms of exercise as a team. You can do this during lunch breaks or even before or after work.
Consult your physician on a regular basis
Consult your physician on a regular basis about your overall health to prevent health problems that might arise from having a sedentary job. Doing so may also motivate you to eat healthy and actively exercise between visits.
A desk job does not mean you have to remain inactive. By incorporating these simple strategies into your daily work routine, you are one step closer to combating the health risks associated with sedentary work.