Now that the dangers of smoking are more widely known, sitting all day has been hailed as the new smoking. A sedentary lifestyle has adverse effects on your health. However, as computer usage has risen, so have the number of desk jobs that keep employees sitting during the workday.

Employees that are healthy take fewer sick days and are more productive. Health care costs to the company are also reduced.

The Health Dangers of Sitting

Sitting for too long can cause weight gain and lower metabolism. There’s an increased risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, varicose veins, and more. Employees that sit for too long are also at a greater risk of anxiety and depression.

Healthy employees are more productive and efficient employees. It’s in the company’s best interest to help employees maintain their health. Company health incentives and programs are a great place to start, but it’s important to minimize the amount of sitting employees have to do every day.

But what can companies do to minimize the risk to their employees’ health?

Regular Breaks

It’s important for employees to take regular breaks from sitting. It’s also good for eye health to look away from a computer screen at least once an hour. These breaks can be taken at the same time to maximize productivity.

There may be some legal break requirements, but employees may need to stand more often than is required. Employees should have some tasks that require getting up from their desks. They should also be encouraged to speak to their coworkers in person whenever possible instead of using e-mail.

Walking Meetings

There are many benefits to having a walking meeting. Employees can remain productive while taking a break from sitting. The human brain also is more creative while moving than when at rest.

Walking can also change the dynamic of the meeting. Instead of sitting around the table with the boss at the head, everyone is on more equal footing. Employees may feel more relaxed and more able to contribute their own ideas.

Standing Desks

Standing desks provide employees with opportunities to stand while working. However, standing for long periods of time can also have negative health effects. Desks that can transition between sitting and standing desks are optimal.

Employee Health Programs

Many companies have employee health programs to encourage workers to exercise and eat healthily. These can help promote overall health but don’t always address the problem of sitting for too long. However, a health program can be used to remind employees to stand every hour or so and to look away from their screens. Regular breaks from sitting can be added as a health goal.

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