“Workplace health promotion: How to increase your physical activity during your 9-5”
So first of all, you may ask ‘what is workplace health promotion?’ The European Network for Workplace Health Promotion has defined it as ‘the combined efforts of employers, employees and society to improve the health and well-being of people at work.’ Workplace health promotion is becoming increasingly popular due to the numerous benefits associated with it. There are benefits for the workplace such as reduced absenteeism, increased productivity, reduced health care/insurance costs and improved staff morale. There are also benefits for the employee such as reduced stress, improved morale, improved health, enhanced self-esteem and having a safe and healthy working environment.
However, if you are reading this and thinking that you can’t really make any changes to your working environment since your organisation/company doesn’t implement any sort of workplace health promotion initiatives; well that is where you are wrong! There are plenty of changes which you can make yourself, as an employee, in order to make your work environment a healthier one. And one of these changes is to start to introduce more physical activity into your working day.
Unfortunately, the majority of the working population are working in sedentary office jobs which usually consist of sitting at a desk in front of a computer for long periods of time. A growing body of evidence suggests sedentary behaviour/inactivity can lead to negative health outcomes. Sitting for long periods of time has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also identified physical inactivity as the 4th largest risk factor for global adult mortality.
Therefore, it is clear that combatting physical inactivity during our working day is extremely important for our health. So, here are a few tips on how you might start to increase your physical activity levels during your 9-5!
- If you don’t have to commute far in the mornings, why not try changing your mode of transport to a more active one, for example, walking or cycling. Try to do it even once or twice a week to increase your physical activity levels. Or else, why not park a bit further away from your work place if you can and then walk/cycle the rest of the way.
- If you do need to drive to work, park as far as you can away from the front door in the car park – those extra steps do count!
- To break up prolonged sitting time, try to walk around or even just stand up from your seat every 20-30 minutes. Set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself.
- Take the stairs instead of the lift. This one is something you hear all the time but most people forget to do it. So, make the conscious effort to take the stairs, even if your colleagues are taking the lift (you might even persuade them to change their minds!)
- Place your printer on the opposite side of the room so you have to physically get up from your desk and walk over to it when you need to print or photocopy something.
- If you get an hour lunch, why not try to squeeze in a 15 minute brisk walk? Bring your runners with you to work. You could also try to start a walking group with the other people in your office.
- If you need to ask your colleague something, why not walk to their office instead of just sending them an email from your desk.
- This is an obvious one but wear comfortable shoes. If your workplace uniform will allow it, try and buy comfortable (but still appropriate for work) shoes which will allow you to be more active during the day.
- Buy a pedometer (or even download an app on your phone) to count your steps. According to the recommendations, you should be aiming to do 10,000 steps a day. If you have a competitive streak in you, why not try and set up a competition between offices to see who can build up the most steps! This is a great way to motivate yourself.
- Stretch. When we sit down for long periods of time, the muscles in our bodies can get extremely tight, especially our hip flexors and lower back muscles. Try to counteract this by stretching a couple of times throughout the day. This will also break up your sitting time.
So, why not try to introduce even just a few of these tips into your working day this week and see if you can make a habit of being more active during your 9-5. Trust me, your health will thank you for it!