It may be time to stand up for your health. Because, as it turns out, our increasingly sedentary lifestyle is affecting us.
It wasn't always this way. In fact, according to the American Heart Association, sedentary jobs have increased 83% since 1950.
Now, it's not really sitting itself that's affecting, it's the repercussions of moving too little
The Mayo Clinic says, “sitting time and activity levels found in those who sat for more than 8 hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of dying similar to the risks of dying posed by obesity and smoking.”
And who sits more than 8 hours? Let's be real. All of us. We sit in a car on the way to work, sit at work, sit in the car on the way home, and then fall on our couches exhausted, where we are once again sitting.
The normal office worker sits a shocking 15 hours every single day.
What are the consequences of sitting that long?
- Greater risk of obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, and heart disease
- Twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease than people who move their bodies
- Muscles, tendons, and ligaments injuries in the neck and back
- Lowered cognition (this is due to slower blood circulation)
- Increased rates of depression and anxiety
The obvious answer is to move your body
The Mayo Clinic suggests you get up every 30 minutes. You could stand while talking on the phone, take “walking meetings” with colleagues, or even spring for adjustable standing/sitting desks.
In the long term, there are two things employers could offer to offset the dangers of sitting, get those brains firing, and even save money on expensive healthcare.
And any time offering a benefit increases productivity and helps your employer (and you) save money, it's worth looking into.
- Employers can offer on-site gyms or comp gym memberships
Edenred is an employee benefits provider that makes it easy for employers to custom-tailor benefit packages that attract top-tier talent, retain awesome employees, and create an environment worth working in.
One of those benefits is Lifestyle Spending Accounts. Edenred can help offer employees a monthly stipend to obtain a gym membership with a prepaid card.
Studies have shown a direct correlation between our physical exercise habits and our cognitive performance. In that, regularly moving our bodies opens us up to improved concentration, sharper memory, faster learning, prolonged mental stamina, and enhanced creativity.
It also elevates mood, lowers stress, releases endorphins, lowers bad cholesterol levels, decreases blood pressure, strengthens the heart, and helps you fight fatigue.
One study even suggested that exercising during regular work hours could boost performance.
Whether it's during work hours or after, the benefits are tangible. Individuals who maintained long-term participation in physical activity were associated with 14%–16% lower healthcare costs per annum than the consistently inactive reference group. Interestingly, individuals who increased their physical activity later in adulthood also had lower healthcare costs in the range of 10%–22% per annum.
So, what have we discovered?
When we get out of that chair, we think better, we work better, we are more pleasant, and we miss less work. Why? Because we are circumventing illnesses caused by a sedentary lifestyle.
There is one more thing your employer can do to help you move your body.
2. Employers can offer micromobility stipends
Most larger cities offer micromobility options like bikeshare or scooter programs, and your employer is able to offer a monthly stipend.
Offering a monthly stipend that helps you ditch your car, saves you from sitting on the subway, and is quicker than walking is a no-brainer.
Does your city offer micromobility options? The U.S. Department of Transportation has a full, searchable list of bike and scooter programs.
Riding a bike to work carries the same benefits of visiting the gym. You're still moving your body! In fact, a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that people who engage in vigorous physical activities (like cycling) regularly had a 31% lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those who did not.
And since it's low impact it can also help improve joint health and reduce the risk of developing arthritis. As a bonus, a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that people who did things like cycle regularly had a 41% lower risk of premature death.
Workplaces that offer exercise and micromobility benefits will be far more competitive than those that lock you in a cubicle and wish you well.
If you're an employer looking to add new benefits that help your employees stay active, schedule a meeting with us today so we can discuss all the options with you.