Research has shown that sitting for 11 hours or more every day increases the risk of death by 40 percent. Sitting for even eight hours or more increases the risks of diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. Unfortunately, research has also shown that running and exercising regularly after sitting all day does not undo the harmful side effects of sitting.
If your workplace is one that puts employees at risk for these issues because of the sedentary nature of the tasks, you may be able to take steps to help employees avoid these dangers. In addition to helping your employees live longer, healthier lives, you may also notice some surprising productivity benefits from helping employees stay more active while at work. The following are a few ways you might help employees to sit less.
Bring in Standing Desks
The most obvious way to help employees sit less is to offer them an alternative in the form of standing desks. Standing desks are expensive, so acquiring pricey furnishings that employees may not use may not be ideal for smaller offices. If you can foot the bill or craft your own, however, standing desks may help employees to enjoy improved circulation and other benefits.
Ideally, employees should sit for about half the time and stand for about half the time. To achieve this, it is best to have desks that are movable or enough stations to allow employees to alternate. Studies have shown that employees feel happier and suffer from fewer body pains when allowed to alternate between standing and sitting during the work day.
Encourage Stretch Breaks
Sitting in exactly the same position for 30 minutes or more has shown to have adverse affects on the body and mood. Encouraging employees to stand up or do chair stretches often can help keep employees from feeling tense and can boost the mood in the office. Some offices have “office laps” where all of the employees take a lap around the office every few hours.
Have Standing Meetings
Whether formal or informal, encourage employees to stand while meeting with peers and superiors. Getting into the habit of standing while talking can help to decrease the amount of time spent sitting down daily. Standing during meetings can also slightly increase the amount of energy in the room, possibly making meetings more productive and interactive.
Make It Easy to Take Active Lunch Breaks
For larger companies, it may make sense to have a basketball court or game room added so that employees can take active lunch breaks. Strategically adding games that must be played standing up, like darts and pool, to game rooms can help to ensure that employees are getting the most from the addition. In addition to allowing employees to use the room on lunch breaks, managers may also actively monitor employee activities and allow employees to visit the room when they are yawning or otherwise look in need of a break.
There are many ways that employers can help to make the workday more active for employees. By taking steps to make the workday less sedentary, the company may improve the reputation for offering a good work/life balance and may help existing employees to be more content. All of these things may help to form a great company culture.