Insurance · 20 July 2016

Make the working day more active with these steps

Business people talking in meeting
Keeping your postural, abdominal and gluteal muscles on their toes throughout the working day can have big health benefits.

Moving more throughout the day – whether exercising outside of work or not – has a big impact on long-term health. Here, our Bupa expert gives office workers her tips for healthier working lives.

People who work in offices spend up to 75 per cent of their working day sitting, according to a report published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Studies have found that a sedentary lifestyle increases people’s risk of diabetes and cardiovascular problems.

Stand up

According to a study co-commissioned by Public Health England, people should spend at least two hours a day on their feet  during their working day. Standing has health benefits as well as a positive impact on energy and creativity. As part of its On Your Feet Britain Challenge, the British Heart Foundation suggests standing during phone calls, having standing or walking meetings and standing during presentations.

Set an alarm

It’s easy to spend hours sitting down without realising it when you’re focused on your work. Set alarms on smartphones or send a company-wide email alert to prompt people to move at least once an hour. You could also consider recommending an app that prompts users to take regular breaks.

Swap emails for face-to-face conversations

As an experiment, a Canadian newspaper asked one office-based employee to communicate only via email or phone while another spoke with colleagues in person. The desk-based employee took just 719 steps; the other reached 8,054. Encouraging your people to talk to each other directly gets them moving and could potentially boost collaboration and office culture.

Get employee input

Involve employees in your efforts – ask for their opinion and find out what would motivate them to move more. You could propose a lunchtime or commuting walking club, or encourage people to use the stairs. Consider offering free or discounted wearable technology like pedometers. Another option is to introduce lunchtime Pilates or yoga classes – you might even have a teacher among your employees who would be keen to get involved.

Swap a chair for a ball

Fitness balls and kneeling chairs promote active sitting that strengthens core muscles and improves balance and posture. They prompt your body to make constant minor adjustments, keeping your postural, abdominal and gluteal muscles on their toes.

Working in an office can be a challenge when it comes to pursuing an active lifestyle, but you can make a real difference to your employees’ health by encouraging them to take a few extra steps each day and launching initiatives to make them less chair-bound.

Why do male employees remain most at risk from mental ill health in the workplace?  Find out here

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Hunter Ruthven was previously editor of Business Advice. He was also the editor of Real Business, the UK's most-read website for entrepreneurs and business leaders at the helm of growing SMEs.

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