It’s Time To Stand Up For Something

We’ve heard all about health and wellness office challenges, but what is this really about? You know where we stand on a giant scale as a team and see if we can lose collectively five pounds. Team bonding or something deeper?

I am not a nutritionist, doctor, or nurse. But I can read (pretty well, in fact!) and here’s what I read most recently: “Sitting is the New Smoking.”

That’s right. Next time you see this:

Image this as equally bad:

A TIME article says that sitting “can shorten life expectancy almost as much as smoking can, which highlights just how damaging inactivity can be, particularly for the heart.” If that doesn’t get you to stand up, read on:

  • Per Huffington Posts’ article, slouching contributes to chronic, long-term pain such as arthritis and bursitis.
  • Inside an office, it can be 100 times dirtier than outside due to exposure from unhealthy gases, chemicals, and recirculated air. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) calls it the “Sick Building Syndrome.”
  • For those who sit 11 hours a day or more, you have 40% greater risk of death in the next three years, compared with people who sit for four hours or less (Business Insider).
  • It would probably be illegal for people to spend so much time with a computer if it gave off radiation (don’t worry – as far as we know, they don't!) but they do harm one's vision, create headaches, and cause migraines if you stare at one for too long.
  • Not to mention that over-illumination (aka – being exposed to bright lights from a computer, bright office, etc.) can increase stress, fatigue, and blood pressure.

Where am I going with this "depress-fest?" After all, 86% of Americans have jobs where they sit all day (Business Insider). My point is - this doesn’t have to be you. We’re not helpless passengers on the Titanic awaiting the iceberg. We have life jackets and rescue boats. We just have to know when it’s time to depart the statistics and become the anomaly.

Employer costs are skyrocketing. Our inability to prioritize a short walk over finishing that 60th email is hurting ourselves, our work product, and hurting the bottom (line) of our companies. Consider the Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2017 study just released showing the average employer pays 33.07% of total employee compensation toward Benefits (vs. Wages and Salaries). Benefits, of course, include many things but the bulk of them are related to your lifestyle, how you choose to spend your time, and how healthy you are. Items covered include: healthcare, workplace insurance/injury coverage, short-term disability, long-term disability, paid leave (Go on vacation! It’s a healthy thing for you to do and your boss is paying for it regardless), retirement. Just think about this for a minute. If we collectively got healthier, could we help reduce our employers’ costs and let’s get really crazy here… could a day exist where that money goes into our bank account versus our family deductible?

I know it’s more complicated than this, but I think the wellness office challenges are a good reminder and a match illuminating the real issue. A healthy body is up to each one of us to maintain. Many tiny tweaks in a day can add up to years at the end. To just give you some ideas to get you brainstorming, consider these optionslisted below (from the Breakroom Blog) to reduce sitting and make healthier choices! After all, “motion is the best lotion!”

  1. Set a timer or alarm. If you are hard at work, time can fly by and before you know it, you have been glued to your desk for three hours straight.
  2. Hold walking meetings. Instead of gathering around the conference room table to brainstorm ideas, why not take a walk around the block.
  3. Use your break or lunch time to talk a walk.
  4. Park away from the building.
  5. Refill your water every hour. Need an excuse to get up and move around? Head to the drinking fountain every hour to fill up your glass or water bottle.
  6. Pack your meals and snacks. Preparing your meals ahead of time will allow you to pack a healthy balance of vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
  7. Standing desks have become a popular tool for combating sitting disease. If purchasing a new desk isn’t in your budget at the moment, but you still want to experience the benefits of working while standing, use a simple storage box to raise your laptop to the perfect height for standing. Before you purchase a box, be sure to take some measurements and determine the ideal height. This will vary from person to person, but keep in mind that the table height should be at about elbow level.

What else do you do to stay moving? I'd like to challenge all of us to sit five less minutes every day this week!

About the Author

Carissa Ryström is a consultant with Morrison, which provides business planning (including budgeting, cash flow forecasting, and strategic planning), feasibility studies, interim executive CFO services, competitive grant writing, recruitment, and special projects that don't fit into any conventional category. You can contact Carissa directly at crystrom@morrisonco.net or via telephone at 530-893-4764 ext. 210.

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