5 ways to create a more active workplace

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Our slogan – ‘Healthy People, Healthy Organisations, Healthy Business Performance’ isn’t just a nice sounding tagline. It’s grounded in a wealth of scientific research linking the health and wellbeing of the people in your organisation to the overall health and wellbeing of the organisation itself.

According to a study reported in The Economist that looked at 1.9 million employees across 230 separate organisations in 73 countries, worker satisfaction is directly linked to higher productivity and profitability. “Staff really are a company’s most important asset.”

The human body has evolved to move, but that’s not what many of us are using it for. We’re working more hours than ever before in jobs that require us to be sedentary most of the time. And even for those who exercise regularly outside of work, you’ll be disheartened by the news that if you sit for the rest of the day you’re likely lessening the effectiveness of your exercise, according to findings published in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

The good news is it doesn’t take much. Even gentle exercise like a 10-minute walk at lunchtime can have significant benefits, helping to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders, obesity, cardiovascular and other lifestyle diseases. Regular movement doesn’t just have a positive impact on physical health, it boots mental health too. The two are linked, so if you take care of one, you are taking care of the other.

But how do we make moving at work a normal part of the day? Here’s 5 suggestions to take onboard.

  1. Lead by example
    The key to culture change in most organisations is to have the people who lead, buy-in and get the ball rolling. Part of this buy-in is modelled behavior. If CEOs, senior leaders, and high-level managers start moving at work, their employees will feel comfortable to do the same.
  2. Mix up the workstation environments
    One of the first things well people looks at in an office environment is the individual workstation ergonomics of its people. Whilst having individual ergonomic setups optimised is a key step, no matter how ergonomically sound it is – spending 8hours a day in the same position isn’t ideal. The addition of sit to stand desks is a great way to offer a variety of working positions but there are other options too. Offering a space in your office with standing desks, lounges, beanbags and a variety of seating or standing work areas is a great way to increase the movement of your people.
  3. Take regular breaks away from screens
    Not only is taking a regular break from your screen and desk good for you, but it will likely increase your productivity too. Take 3-5 minutes approximately every half hour to step or look away from your screen and reinvigorate. This time can be used to perform some simple exercises or stretches or just to regather your thoughts for the next burst of work. You may want to look at a program like Smart Break as a way to implement these breaks.Walking meetings are a great opportunity to move too and that way you don’t need to stop working either. Enjoy the outdoors and boost cardiovascular health, creativity and productivity while you do it, according to a pilot study for the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine.
  4. Create a space for movement
    One of the barriers to movement in the workplace can be the lack of appropriate space to do so combined with people feeling self conscious doing it at their desks or in full view of everyone. Creating a dedicated room or space for movement is . a great way to say ‘you can move here’. Supply some basic stretching and exercise equipment to really get people moving. If the space is large enough, group classes could be run from the space too. well people can assist with setting up a space within your workplace.

  5. Teamwork makes the dream work
    What better way to normalise and make people feel comfortable moving at work than by moving together. Whether it’s a dedicated space in your office or organising a regular weekly walking group, the benefits could be profound. An added benefit of moving together is the team bonding and cohesiveness that comes with the time spent together away from the office.Smart Break, which we briefly mentioned previously is a great program that can be implemented into any office environment. It’s a solution that helps your people become more energised and productive, while also treating many the problems that come with extended times in sedentary jobs. If you’d like to find out more about Smart Break or see it in action let me know and we’ll make it happen.
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