According to the Centers for Disease Control Foundation, worker illness and injury costs United States employers $225.8 billion annually. The CDC says that 7.6 million people list back pain as their reason for filing disability claims.
Research indicates that Sitting Disease has become an epidemic, both at home and in the workplace. It causes neck and back pain, mental issues like lack of focus and depression, obesity, heart disease and even cancer.
Though some employers may believe that employees are only productive when they are in their seats working, the opposite is true. Sitting Disease impedes the health of the workforce and has a negative impact on productivity and therefore, the bottom line.
The good news is that there are effective remedies that are easy to implement.
Joan Vernikos, Ph.D., the former director of Life Sciences at NASA and author of The G-Connection: Harness Gravity and Reverse Aging, and Sitting Kills, Moving Heals, was responsible for monitoring the health of astronauts. Her experimental research shows that periodically standing up 32 to 36 times a day helps to reverse the health damages caused by sitting disease. In fact, standing several times a day using the same energy expenditure is more efficient in regulating insulin and lipids than a bout of intense exercise once a day sitting the same amount of time. Vernikos states, “It’s not how many hours of sitting is bad for you; it’s how often you interrupt that sitting that is good for you.”
Simple solution: Every 30 minutes, alternate between sitting and standing. Go to www.juststand.org and learn how Human Resources can teach employees how to practice the “sit-stand” switch:
- Consider switching to a standing or sit/stand desk.
- Set your phone alarm to go off every 50 minutes – do 10 minutes of stretches and movement, such as walking on stairs or dancing.
- Stand while talking on the phone.
- If working at home, consider several “housework” or “outdoor chores” breaks. It is a good way to incorporate standing and movement into the day (not to mention keeping up with everything). For example, run the vacuum, wash a couple of windows or do some raking or sweeping outside.
- Schedule outdoor walking meetings instead of sitting meetings.
- Incorporate more walking into your daily life. Park farther away from your destination. Take the stairs and skip the elevator.
- Bring in some small weights and resistance bands to the office. Do arm curls while reading your computer screen and use the resistance bands when take your stretch breaks.
- Put your water bottle a few steps away from your desk, on another desk, window sill, etc. so that every time you want to drink (and you should be drinking every 20 minutes), you have to stand up to get it.
- When a challenging situation arises, stand up and gain a new perspective.
- Do three full squats every hour.
- Stand up when you open and read your mail.
Following these practices can create positive organizational impact. From employee’s health, wellness, productivity and satisfaction, to reduced absenteeism and lowered healthcare costs, everyone benefits.