Sedentary Lifestyle – A Slow Death for your Business
A sedentary lifestyle is the new smoking! Increasing number of employers are now taking up the responsibility of getting their employees on their feet. A sedentary lifestyle is not just detrimental to the physical or the mental health of an employee, but it directly impacts the overall performance and health of an organization as well. The responsibility of the employers is not just to educate their employees about this threat, but also engage resources and try to eliminate the risks of the “sitting disease” among their employees.
However, the first step is to really understand the reasons and implications of a sedentary lifestyle on your physical and mental health, and how it can impact your organization as a whole.
Sedentary Lifestyle – The Health Risks
Prolonged sitting is almost as dangerous for your health as smoking. This lifestyle has become the norm in our culture, and needs to change now!
Interestingly, exercise is not the ultimate solution to the problems of a sedentary lifestyle. Studies prove that people who stand on the job burn more calories than those who do not. At this point, it does not matter how much the sedentary worker actually works out.
This lifestyle is hugely responsible for risks related to cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, obesity, hypertension, chronic kidney diseases, varicose veins, muscle atrophy, and even bone deterioration.
Spending too much time sitting on a daily basis not only increases your health risks but has the potential to naturally reduce the lifespan of a person.
- Watching TV for long hours can lead to obesity because of the tendency of binging on junk foods. When your body is unable to convert the fat in your body to energy, your sweet cravings also increase.
- Desk jobs can lead to obesity and cardiovascular diseases as the food you eat get stored as fat, which accumulates in the artery walls, leading to heart issues.
- Sleeping for more than 10 hours a day can dull the functioning of your brain and result in premature schizophrenia, depression, and even suicidal tendencies.
- Excessive use of gadgets results in over-dependency, followed by reduced physical activity, resulting in, of course, obesity and other harmful diseases.
- Spending too much time playing video games can develop an anti-social behaviour, attention deficit hyperactivity disorders, and such other mental illnesses.
- Sitting for long hours makes you lethargic, resulting in obesity and other diseases, including colon cancer.
- Homemakers who are dependent on house helps tend to develop immune disorders like PCOS and Osteoporosis, due to reduced physical activity.
Shortcomings of a Traditional Workplace
A traditional workplace is not conducive to an active and healthy lifestyle. Having to sit in one place for long durations, the artificial lighting, and the stress of meeting deadlines, can all come together to wreak havoc on the physical as well as the mental health of employees. Also, finding time to exercise on a daily basis may become a challenge for a lot of people due to lack of time or an overworked mind at the workplace.
This inactivity has proven to have an adverse effect on an employee’s productivity, adding to the existing stress, and completing the vicious circle of the ill-effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
It goes without saying that a healthy and a happy employee is more of an asset to an organization than an employee who is unhealthy and stressed out.
Challenges – Workforce & Productivity
The physical health of employees is not the only thing that takes a hit due to long sitting hours. A study has confirmed that sitting for too long can disrupt the ability of an employee to focus. 39% respondents of the study said they compensate with long hours of being seated by indulging in browsing the web or checking their social media pages. 61% of the respondents said they leave their seats and take breaks to relieve the restlessness of sitting for too long. The problem here is that on an average, a resource takes a 20 minutes break once they leave their seat, which hampers their work productivity on a significant level. Increased absenteeism and sick-leaves seem to be other by-products of this situation.
Changing air of the workplace culture
Workplace culture plays a significant role in recruitment and retention of resources. This is why it is important to revamp the workspace and its culture to create an appeal among potential employees of perks and benefits that are more human-centric.
Management of a sedentary lifestyle is coming around to be a powerful and a sought-after workplace benefit for existing and potential employees, in the absence of which their retention and productivity both are doubtful.
Employers must educate their employees about the ill-effects of a sedentary lifestyle and provide them with the resources to move towards an active lifestyle.
Employer Initiatives to Beat the Sedentary Lifestyle
Here are a few interesting ideas to create an office space that promotes walking and staying healthy –
Instead of the one-on-one conference room discussions, encourage more walk-n-talk meetings, for both physical as well as psychological benefits.
A standing desk can burn 50 extra calories per hour than the traditional desk. Encourage your employees to use a standing desk for some part of their day, especially when they have taken in some extra calories that day. An added advantage of using a standing desk is an improvement in the core strength and the overall posture.
Introduce weekly or monthly walking challenges among employees in return for incentives. As an employer, you must challenge them to take the stairs or to use the parking lot far away from the office building. The incentives will push them to move more and get a little fitter every day.
Add the fun element
Try to add a fun element to the old and boring walk and taking-the-stairs routine. Create challenges, put up motivational posters near the stairs, circulate success stories of employees who got fitter by letting go of the sedentary lifestyle.
Promote Fitness Trackers
Promote and incorporate wearable fitness trackers into the company culture. If the company budget agrees, these fitness trackers can form a part of your incentives to make your employees move.
Everyday Tips to “Move” More
- Stretch, bend, turn for 5-10 minutes every hour while sitting at your desk. This may seem negligible but is actually pretty effective.
- Use a standing desk for some part of the day. You can start off with 15-20 minutes at a time.
- Include 30-45 minutes every day into your schedule to exercise. Set a reminder if necessary.
- Skip the elevator and take the stairs to your office or home.
- Park your car far away from the building you need to get to.
- Hydrate! Dehydration is responsible for giving rise to unhealthy cravings. Drink enough water to keep the junk food and sugar at bay.
- Pace or take a walk during phone conversations.
- Focus on your breathing. Breathing effectively can increase your energy levels, improve your brain power, lift your mood, and help you burn more calories. Do deep breathing exercises for at least 5 minutes every day.
- Do not just sit idle while watching TV. You can stretch around or exercise, which is excellent especially when you are unable to find time to exercise otherwise.
- Invest in a fitness tracker to keep a tab on your physical activity through the day.
- Ride a bike instead of a car to get to places that are close by.
- Stay active around the house, with chores or errands that you can manage without the need for a help.
The employer holds the responsibility of ensuring a healthy workforce and a healthy organization by adopting necessary measures to beat the sedentary lifestyle out of the lives of their employees.
A healthy and happy employee means more productivity, better retention, and lower medical care costs for the organization!