Across the working-age population, the only thing in danger of moving before noon on a workday will be the unwanted FYIs and reply-alls inhabiting untamed inboxes across the land.
The former hunters and gatherers have swapped time on their feet for hours in the seat. For many, the working day takes place from the comfort of a desk. Convenience is one click away, gratification is immediate and the working world can be conquered from the keyboard.
Although industries may be thriving, there is a human cost attached. Physical inactivity is taking a significant toll on our health and wellbeing. One in four of us are insufficiently active despite the fact that regular physical activity has been shown to treat, manage and prevent multiple lifestyle-related conditions. In 2016/17, 1.3 million workers suffered from work-related ill-health, which equated to 25.7 million working days lost. This has been estimated to cost businesses up to £32 billion per year.
Many employees struggle to fit physical activity into their busy working days and research has shown that as a result, employees can spend up to 75% of their working day sitting down. Experts have linked inactivity to the leading causes of workplace absence: musculoskeletal pain, stress, depression and anxiety.
Our team at Champion Health are on a mission to change and save lives by supporting workplace wellbeing. Check out our five simple steps that can help you activate your working day.
Tip 1 – Walking Meetings
Beat the post-lunch slump by starting off your team meetings on foot. We are not suggesting ditching tasks for the day in favour an afternoon on the golf course, but we do advocate 30-minute stroll through a nearby green space. It might just give your meetings the spark they need. At Champion Health we practice what we preach. Some of our best ideas emerge during our walking meetings (or just after). It seems our brisk walks help us be more productive and creative.
Tip 2 – Energizing Nudges
Reminder. Routine. Reward. Repeat – Become a movement architect by skillfully organizing your working environment so that it gets you moving more. For readers with wearable tech, you will be familiar with the wrist-based nudges urging you to complete your 17-minute brisk walk in order to meet your daily activity goals and earn your reward.
For those seeking a more organic approach, why not try setting a series of alarms on your smartphone or desktop to remind you to take an active break at varying time intervals across the day. You can bolt this idea onto the back of the Pomodoro technique; an evidence-based approach to boosting your productivity without burning you out! Pomodoro involves working for a series of short time sprints that are punctuated with small concentration breaks. It is like interval training for the brain. Simply fill the short concentration breaks with some physical activity. Here is a simple desktop Pomodoro timer to get you started. For app users, we really like using Be Focused which is available in the app store.
Tip 3 – Beat the Sludge
It’s Good to Talk – If you are anything like we are, you have probably developed a love-hate relationship with your emails. Whilst they have streamlined the ways in which we communicate they can also end up making us far less productive and easily distracted. Rather than composing and responding to emails continually, why not swap out some emails for a face-to-face with colleagues in your organization? By the time you’ve drafted an email, checked it, clicked send and then awaited response you could quite probably have hiked up the stairs to the top floor and asked the question directly. A simple, active way to move information around your organization and break up the sitting cycle. .
Tip 4 – Standing Desks
Standing desks are on the rise and offer a stylish, practical and cost-effective alternative to the traditional workspace. Depending on your budget you can enhance or replace your current workspace with a standing desk that is flexible around your needs. This does not mean standing to attention all day like a palace guard; it simply allows you to modify your working style at various points throughout the day. Experts have found that by using a standing desk for just three hours during the working week can burn an extra 30,000 calories per year! If you are looking for inspiration, check out the range available online at iwantastandingdesk.
Tip 5 – Lean & Green
Active Travel – Getting to and from work provides two daily opportunities to boost your daily physical activity levels that easily be built into a daily routine. If you don’t fancy a 25-mile two-wheel time-trial each morning, why not drive in and park up at nearby park & ride. You can leave your car for free and finish the last few miles of your commute on foot or on two-wheels rather than four. It’s better for your health and the environment. You might save some cash too. If you take the bus, hop off a few stops earlier than your home or work stop. Sadly, this doesn’t work with trains.
If the main barrier is that you do not have a bike, then take advantage of cycle-to-work schemes and treat yourself to a bike with all the trimmings. There are many UK workplaces engaging in these schemes for employees, offering tax and health benefits. Check with your employer to find out more.