Combating workplace sedentariness

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Combating workplace sedentariness

How many hours do you spend in front of a computer screen, hunched over to better see the content of the new e-mail that just came in?  I’m sure the answer is more than you’d like, and that’s because as productive as we might want to be at our job, the fact is that spending 5 hours in front of a screen doesn’t carry any physical or psychological benefits whatsoever.  We’re talking about workplace sedentariness.

Although for some time now the healthy lifestyle trend has been gaining considerable ground, we exercise less and less to get from one place to another.  A case in point:  the car, bus, and metro have become practically our only options for mobility.  On top of that, what free time we have to enjoy at home we spend in repose, whether it’s watching television, surfing the web, or reading on the couch.  And even if you happen to be one of those people who stay very active once they leave the workplace, the hours you spend sitting at the office can still take quite a toll on your body and mood.

But it’s not all bad news.

Aware of the problems workplace sedentariness gives rise to, many companies are implementing programs focusing on promoting physical activity, incentivizing it inside and outside of the workplace.  We at EDT learned all about it during the breakfast put on by Miempresaessaludable.com (“My company is healthy”) on the 24th of October at the Castellana AZCA Lexington Workspace, which we were fortunate enough to be invited to and attend.

It was a very interesting breakfast chat, which dealt with how sedentariness affects people in the workplace and touched on some success stories in the area of physical activity at two specific companies:  the ING Direct bank and Enagas, Spain’s leading natural gas transportation company.  With their employees’ health in mind, in the past few years both companies have implemented physical exercise projects and healthy nutrition measures to improve their personnel’s quality of life, and the results are a total hit.

Exercise helps prevent very detrimental illnesses such as depression or mood swings, and helps boost workers’ productivity.  As each worker is a cog in a company’s gearworks, the company is also inevitably affected by the physical and mental condition of those it hires,  be it negatively or positively.

If your company hasn’t yet adopted measures to favor a healthy lifestyle, don’t worry, everything gets around eventually, but while you wait, here are 4 tips to encourage movement and combat workplace sedentariness:

  • If you have to communicate with a colleague, make an effort and walk to their desk: avoid using the phone or e-mail.  Take advantage of the situation to get up, stretch your legs a bit, and loosen up your body’s muscles.
  • If you work on the fourth floor and not the fifteenth, take the stairs. The elevator is mighty comfortable, but this quick under-five-minute workout will be mighty good for you—it’s worth the sacrifice.
  • Do stretches throughout your workday. You shouldn’t spend more than two consecutive hours seated:  take a break and stroll around your offices for a few minutes, stretch your arms to get rid of the stiffness in your shoulders or go to the bathroom every hour.  Any excuse is a good one to get out of your chair for a few minutes.
  • Although we know that keeping up correct body posture while you work is relatively complicated, the truth is that if you pay it some mind you’ll be able to avoid back pain which in the long run can be very deleterious. Try to straighten your back, keep your feet resting on the floor, and sit with your knees at the same level or above your hips. 

What ideas do you suggest to encourage movement during the workday?  Tell us in the comments!

 

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