Energised, happy and healthy employees move more
Moving the body and expending energy, whether it is via an increase in the level of incidental exercise or actively participating in an exercise program, will have a positive impact on one’s physical and mental health.
Physical inactivity contributes to over three million preventable deaths worldwide each year. The Australian Health Survey 2011–12 results show that almost 70 per cent of Australian adults can be classed as either sedentary or having low levels of physical activity. It also shows that 60 per cent of Australian adults do less than the recommended 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each day. If you want to read up on some of the dangers associated with sedentary living, read this – https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/the-dangers-of-sitting
We’ve all heard the statement ‘sitting is the new smoking’ and for most us, our work environments are to blame for our increasingly sedentary lifestyle.
Your job may require you to be in front of a computer for eight hours of the day, five days a week. Whilst you may not be able to change this, you can change your movement patterns throughout the day to increase your overall level of physical activity.
Incidental exercise is any physical activity built up in small amounts throughout the day and increasing your step count is one simple way to do this.
Greek physician Hippocrates, known as the ‘Father of Western Medicine’ stated that “Walking is Man’s Best Medicine.”
It may not be feasible for you to walk to work, or your hours may make it difficult to fit in a walk before or after work. That’s OK. There’s so many things you can do each day that combined, can increase your level of movement substantially.
Fitness monitors have become very popular and for good reason. Measuring your step count or walking distance in day can be a real eye opener. You may be very surprised to realise just how little you move throughout the day. While 10,000 steps a day has emerged as an ideal target, one size does not fit all and just remember that the more active you are each day the better. Increasing your step count from 2,000 to 4,000 is still a positive change.
If you do not have a fitness tracker, why not start by setting a number of alarms or reminders on your phone or computer throughout the day. Schedule some motivational reminders with quotes that inspire you to encourage you to get up and move around.
An effective workplace wellness program supports the principles of wellness in the workplace – one of which is movement. To cultivate a wellness culture, management needs to support the integration of wellness initiatives and environmental changes to reduce sedentary behaviours. Reference the ‘effective workplaces’ infographic here.
Some simple things that should be encouraged in the workplace to break up the periods of time spent sitting.
- When you receive a phone call, use this as an opportunity to stand up and walk around. Perhaps this means you may need to look at changing the phones in your office or getting a set of headphones that allow you to move more freely.
- If you need to speak to a colleague, speak to them; get up from your desk, walk over and engage with them instead of sending them an email or using the intercom or phone.
- If you use the printer regularly, try to position yourself further away from it, or move your bin away from your desk so you physically have to get up and walk to the bin to dispose of rubbish.
- Standing desks are also becoming more and more popular, and assuming you actually use the standing function of your standing desk, this is a wonderful way to get you out of your seat for periods of time throughout your workday. Standing for periods throughout the day will help to improve the blood flow throughout your body and to the extremities. Standing will also encourage better posture and may relieve lower back pain associated with sitting for long periods.
- When lunch time comes around, take a break. Go outside and get some fresh air and if possible, go for a little walk, even just around the building.
All these little tips may not sound like much, but combined, increasing your level of incidental exercise will get your body moving more frequently which is the goal.
Keep in mind though, if you want to achieve physical fitness, lose weight or meet specific body goals, you may need to ramp up your exercise efforts.
Wellness and Leadership Training Programs
The Australasian Sustainable Wellness Academy’s Holistic Corporate Wellness Programs have been specifically developed to kickstart and infuse wellness from within organisations. To create healthier, happier workplaces by establishing strong frameworks and providing the tools and support for employees to make healthy lifestyle practices commonplace.