Do your people spend an average of 9 hours or more hunkered down at a desk? It could be killing them, according to recent research — even if they exercise regularly. How can that be?
Spending too much time in your seat at work has been shown to increase the likelihood of cardiac and metabolic afflictions, as well as the risk of death from “all causes” (aka premature death, according to the New South Wales Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages).
The study ran from 2006 until 2010, and collected data from nearly 222,500 Australians who were 45 and older.
It looked at sitting time at work, in conjunction with gender, age, education, urban/rural residency, body mass index, smoking status, physical activity, disability and self-rated health.
So what’s an HR professional to do?
In addition to promoting physical activity and taking more short breaks as a way for employees to stay healthy, help them develop a more active lifestyle at work by encouraging a few simple behavioral changes:
- Dump the big water bottle. Urge employees to use a container that holds 8 oz. They’ll get up out of their seat more regularly — to fill up the cup and to empty their bladder, if they’re getting their 8 glasses a day.
- Try old-fashioned communication. How many times a day do people in the office email each other — even if their desks are close to each other? Remind people that the most-effective way to communicate is face-to-face. It saves time, too, as opposed to a back-and-forth email exchange.
- “But I don’t remember to get up.” It’s likely you’ll hear this excuse. Help the employee (perhaps with a hand from IT) to set a regular alarm in that person’s calendar that’ll go off every hour. This can be a great reminder. Consider keeping it subtle, so the worker doesn’t drive his neighbors crazy.