The human body is a complex machine that’s meant to stay active throughout the day. For many employees working desk jobs and sitting in one spot for several hours is commonplace. It should come as no surprise that a sedentary lifestyle is unhealthy for your team but what many don’t realize is that it eventually leads to a reduction in productivity and motivation. We’ve pulled together some tips for ensuring your team remains happy and healthy in the workplace, how to identify what “sitting disease” is and how to prevent it in your own office.
What Is Sitting Disease?
Sitting disease is a term used to describe a medical condition called metabolic syndrome. This ailment involves the systematic slowing of an individual’s metabolism due to the length of time spent in a stagnant position. Since the body can’t handle substantial stretches of inactivity, it starts to lose the ability to remain energized. Unfortunately, research shows it’s becoming more common for employees to be affected by this disease at some point within their career. While some might think that vigorous exercise can combat sitting disease, this isn’t the case. Shorter, more frequent movements throughout the workday is the best way to mitigate the risk of contracting sitting disease. Luckily, a lot of employers are aware of the seriousness of sitting disease and have taken action—such as implementing walking meetings, snack breaks and adding sit-to-stand desks—to keep their staff active during the workday.
Here are some common symptoms of sitting disease, how they affect employees and what you should watch out for.
Poor Posture and Pain
Poor posture often happens when a person sits in one position for a long time. Hunching over a computer screen or desk can feel comfortable in the moment, but as time goes on, this position weakens the core muscles and eventually causes pain. The back and neck are typically most afflicted by these workplace injuries. If employees are frequently complaining of aches while at their desks, sitting disease could very likely be the culprit.
If you hear complaints of weight gain around the office, be on the lookout for sitting disease. Inactivity throughout the workday results in a slower metabolism. People who don’t get enough movement throughout the day often have poor eating habits too. An active lifestyle often goes hand in hand with healthy eating choices. Healthy employees are happy employees, so take note if you begin to notice these symptoms.
Poor posture and inactive employees can result in extreme fatigue. Metabolism is what helps the body generate energy and keeps us going throughout a busy day. When metabolism slows down, fatigue sets in and often gets worse as the workday progresses. This translates into reduced productivity and a general lack of motivation—something all offices should avoid!
Tips for Preventing Sitting Disease
Now that you understand what sitting disease is, it’s time to learn how to prevent it. Fortunately, this ailment won’t develop as long as an employee can maintain a healthy and moderately active routine. While you can’t impose a specific regimen on employees, you can certainly encourage these behaviors with a few strategic changes in the office. Here are a few tips for keeping your team protected.
Encourage Frequent Motion
Make sure you put in the effort to encourage team members to get up and move at several points throughout their day. Whether this means hosting walking meetings or enticing folks to take short breaks throughout the day, engaging in activity every few hours helps fight the onset of sitting disease and keeps an individual’s metabolism healthy. Working while standing—which can easily be done with sit-to-stand desks— can have a large impact on the number of calories burned throughout a long workday. Placing a variety of healthy snacks and water stations a short walk from the main work areas will also encourage movement. Some offices have even had success implementing walking groups that motivate employees to get extra steps in throughout the day.
Make Exercise a Part of Company Culture
Fostering a work environment that values health and physical activity is another smart way to eliminate the risk of sitting disease. Providing your team with the guidance and resources to obtain a healthier lifestyle is still beneficial. For instance, offering discounted yoga classes or establishing a support network for those who are trying to meet certain fitness goals can push your team in the right direction. People are more likely to choose healthier habits and stave off the effects of sitting disease over time if they have the right resources in place to support them.
Provide Healthier Foods
Ensuring healthier foods are readily available will increase your teams’ chances of making better choices. Stock up on fruits, veggies, and granola bars. Encourage water consumption by having plenty of water stations scattered throughout the office. Provide employees with company branded water bottles to keep at their desks. Staying hydrated promotes more activity and energy throughout long workdays.
Embrace Office Ergonomics
Providing your team with the proper ergonomic support while at their desks and in conference rooms is a very important part of avoiding sitting disease. As the science behind healthy body alignment and comfort, ergonomics is at the core of keeping sitting disease at bay in your office. Chairs designed with the right alignment can stave off muscle deterioration, fight poor posture, and ensure that employees are always comfortable. For this reason, supplying each member of your team with one of these products can go a long way in maintaining their overall well-being.
Ergonomics is one of our core values at Rework. We believe that every employee should have access to a chair that makes them feel comfortable and secure as they work. This is why we craft all of our refurbished furniture with this functionality in mind. From desk seating to office conference room chairs, everything we sell gives your team the perfect amount of physical support. As such, we’re confident that they’re just what you need to ensure a healthier and happier workforce.