Did you know that the average adult sits for 8-10hrs every day and that this is a risk factor for poor health?

Working environments, where we spend a third of our day, have a significant impact on our health and wellbeing.  According to Baker IDIand VicHealth, prolonged sitting is a unique occupational health issue than can have serious implications; Type 2 Diabetes, Musculo-skeletal, Cardio Vascular, Premature Mortality.  And whilst you might think that as long as your doing your 30mins of moderate exercise a day you’re balancing your body’s requirements, research has proved this to be incorrect, and that this level of exercise has no benefits against a sedentary work lifestyle.

“This sedentary occupational lifestyle contributes to 5million people to be overweight, with 1.3million of these to considered obese.  These statistics account for 4million days of lost productivity in the workplace every year costing business’s  $3.6billion”

Office based employees make up 12% of the working population and spend 75% of their day in restricted movement time.  This equates to 80,000hrs spent seated during our working lives.  Others at risk of prolonged sitting include those in the transport industry and highly mechanised industries.

Given these statistics and the significant financial costs that poor health can have on our business’s, it makes good business sense to contribute to the wellbeing of our employees.  So how can our workplaces start to counteract a sedentary work lifestyle and get our people active during the day?

  • Install sit/stand workstations or at a minimum provide standing workspaces for staff to utilise
  • Provide telephone headsets so staff can move around during phone converstations
  • Hold standing or walking meetings
  • Encourage face to face interaction between staff as opposed to email
  • Increase the amount of breaks employees have throughout the day research has shown that increased breaks don’t decrease productivity

Bupa Manager of Health Leaderships & Partnerships, Gemma Gosgriff reported at the recent Worktech Melbourne Conference that they had implemented a number of interventions to a trial group of employee’s to contribute to their wellbeing.

  • Vending Machine stocked only with healthy food choices and a traffic light indicator system
  • Guidelines for healthier takeaway options and nearby locations
  • Guidelines for healthier catering options
  • Communications throughout the business encouraging employees “its ok to stand in meetings”, “take the stairs”, “move every 20mins”
  • Shower facilities and towel service to encourage staff to be more active before and during work hours
  • Putt Putt golf matts – collaborative meetings whilst being active
  • Internal communication chanels – TV screens, Intranet, newsletters and peer to peer encouraging healthier options.

Bupa have also introduced the use of “inclinometers“.  Worn on the thigh these little devices measure the amount of time wearers spend sitting and standing throughout the day.

INO-Markant-Oxi-CanberraWith many organisations starting to identify the costs of poor employee wellbeing on their bottom lines, manufacturers are getting more innovative with their product lines.  Treadmill workstations and this new cycling desk from Markant are just a few of the new options available.

So, where are you going to hold your next meeting?