A study from the British Psychological Society revealed that the typical office worker spends nearly six hours a day sitting at their desk. While this might seem like a positive in terms of getting work done, it’s detrimental to the well-being of your employees.
Both physical and mental health are closely tied to productivity and creativity. By prioritizing health in your organization, you’ll likely increase employee engagement and decrease sick days. However, it might be difficult for your employees to break away from the desk, especially if they work in a demanding role.
Luckily, your team doesn’t need to choose between getting their work done and becoming less sedentary. You can support them in mitigating the negative effects of extended desk time by promoting proper habits to counter them.
Top Dangers of Sedentary Behavior
What do the dangers of sedentary lifestyles look like?
According to research from the University of Regensburg, individuals increase their risk of colon cancer by 8% and endometrial cancer by 10% for every two-hour sedentary period. Similarly, a study published in The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association indicates that those who sit for more than six hours a day are 23% more likely to develop dementia.
Furthermore, a report from Diabetes Care reveals that women with highly sedentary lives face a 54% higher risk of Type 2 diabetes compared to those with low-sedentary lifestyles. Another study in Medicine and Sport Science links sedentary behavior to a significant 112% increase in the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
And if you think that your lifestyle (and your teams’ lifestyles) are active enough to not fall into the “sedentary” category, consider the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendations for weekly physical activity: adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or at least 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity. Astonishingly, only 25% of adults worldwide meet these guidelines. By fulfilling these recommendations, however, adults can prevent or manage non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Additionally, WHO highlights that those who are insufficiently active face a 20–30% higher risk of mortality.
9 Tips to Help Your Team Sit Less
So how can you encourage your team members to strive for this amount of daily physical activity and reap the physical and mental health benefits that follow? Here are nine tips to get them started.
1. Educate and motivate
Educate your team on the dangers of sedentary behavior and encourage them to reflect on why they might want to become more active. What drives them to make this positive change? Extrinsic motivations might include wanting to drop a clothing size or look more fit. Intrinsic motivations could revolve around the desire to spend more quality time with their families or maintain mental well-being, thus enhancing their professional growth and longevity.
2. Reframe their mindset
Engage in a thoughtful conversation about mindset, encouraging your team members to reshape their perspective on cultivating healthy habits. For instance, explain that dedicating just 10 minutes a day to building a habit accumulates an impressive 60 hours each year.
When faced with WHO’s recommended 75 minutes of vigorous activity weekly, making changes might initially appear daunting. However, if you were to distribute those minutes throughout your waking hours (approximately 17 hours) of a single day, you’d only need to exercise four to five minutes per hour. This simple shift in thinking can make a significant difference in helping you and your team embrace a healthier lifestyle.
3. Encourage non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT)
NEAT, or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, involves expending energy and staying active through unconventional activities that may not resemble traditional exercise routines.
There are many ways for your employees to increase their NEAT in the workplace, such as parking their cars a bit farther from the office, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, incorporating stretching breaks during lunchtime, or using standing desks.
4. Help them prep ahead of time
When it’s 6 AM and you’re rushing to get your family out the door, it might be difficult to prioritize packing a gym bag. To make this easier on your employees, encourage them to form a habit of preparing their gym essentials the night before. Alternatively, you can suggest that they keep a pair of sneakers at the office, making it convenient for them to go for a walk or hit the gym during breaks.
5. Encourage the latest tech
There’s a wealth of technology your team can use to cultivate healthy habits. Inspire your team members to use wearables, personalized habit trackers, or other apps as powerful tools for monitoring their health and holding themselves accountable.
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6. Schedule movement
Encourage your team to schedule movement throughout their workdays. Whether that means they schedule times on their calendars or set alarms on their phones, remind them that taking short breaks every hour can make a significant difference in their health. Additionally, urge them to establish time buffers between meetings, to give themselves brief moments to get up from their desks and stretch.
7. Encourage accountability buddies
Invite your team members to partner with coworkers for accountability. By working with an accountability buddy, your team can support and motivate one another to achieve their fitness goals. Alternatively, you can also give employees the option to use any gym stipends your organization provides for personal training sessions so they have other options for accountability.
8. Use a habit tracker
Encourage your team to use the Arootah Habit Coach to track their personal goals and score themselves daily. Our robust dashboard offers users a clear view of their progress, making it easier (and more fun) for them to manage their habits.
9. Lead by example
Finally, lead by example. Prioritize your health and adopt habits that promote movement throughout the workday. Your actions will serve as inspiration for your team to follow suit.
The Bottom Line
By encouraging your team to develop healthy habits that get them up from their desks, you can help them minimize their chances of developing health problems down the road while also boosting their productivity and your organization’s bottom line.
Want to continue to support your employees’ health? Learn how Arootah’s corporate wellness offerings can fit your company’s unique needs.