People spend today 60% of their waking hours at work, and for many of us it means sitting at a desk facing a computer screen, typing away and even eating at your desk. Add to that the time spent sitting in the car or public transport to finally collapse in front of the TV at the end of the day and the result is dramatic for your health. Sitting is so detrimental to health that it is now dubbed the new smoking.
Sitting weakens bones and muscles, slows the metabolism and under-stimulates the mind. According to NHS research sitting leads, on top of the obvious back pains of all sorts, to circulatory problems, heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, as well as stress and mental issues including depression. Inactivity is the 4th leading risk factor for global mortality and a cause of sickness absence, loss of productivity and costs to businesses.
In Kent, organisations can benefit from the support of the council through KentSport.org to promote sports and physical activity opportunities for everyone. The organisation provides ideas and suggestions to get everyone active at work, as well as training – the Active at Work Champion course – to promote better health and increase participation in sport and physical activity across the organisation.
Within each organisation, it is possible to promote an “Active at Work” mentality amongst staff; depending on the space and budget, businesses can provide specific areas to encourage people to move: the first one would be a kitchen with dining facilities to avoid eating at one’s desk whilst encouraging interaction; if possible, a dedicated area with static equipment (bicycle, rower or treadmill), or just a few elastic bands to help with stretching movements would be a great way to
encourage workers to move. Standing up for phone conversations, going and talking to colleagues instead of e-mailing them and really taking a break during lunchtime for a walk around the block are easy measures to put in place. Organising group walks of 15 to 30 minutes is not only beneficial for the body but also provide some “fresh air” to the mind.
Your Local Chamber of Commerce is also there to help organisations facilitate the daily 20-30 minutes of activity necessary to boost employees’ wellbeing: membership offers many benefits including opportunities to support businesses in choosing the right health and wellbeing strategy.
Benefits of an active workforce includes: lower rates of absenteeism, early retirement and workplace injuries, increased productivity and communication, greater staff retention and engagement. What’s not to like?