You may want to take a seat for this . . . or, maybe not.
Did you know that sitting at work all day could be a major source of some chronic health issues? Studies have suggested that sitting for long periods of time can contribute to a whole host of health problems, including:
- Heart disease
- Back and joint pain
So, clearly, it’s time to take a stand against sitting! But what can you do to balance out the negative effects of sitting for too long?
Plenty of people are trying to bring more physical activity into the office by completely rethinking how they work. They’re revolutionizing the desk set-up, transforming their workstations from places where they have to be sedentary into spots where they can be more active.
But do these methods actually work? Let’s break down the pros and cons of three office trends:
Swapping out desk chairs for exercise balls has been popular for a while now. (So much so that there are now fitness balls designed specifically for the office.)
The big benefit of an exercise ball is that it forces you to be more active than a traditional desk chair. Even as you sit and work, your body is constantly making small adjustments, which can help engage your core, activate different muscle groups, and keep your body more active overall.
Getting out of a traditional office chair and onto a fitness ball can also make it easier to stretch whenever the feeling strikes, and studies suggest that they help people burn more calories than when they only sit in a desk chair. Plus, who doesn’t love being able to bounce around when a great song comes on? That’s true freedom.
But at the same time, health experts caution that an exercise ball isn’t a cure-all. Some workers who make the switch report higher levels of fatigue, and actually say that they experience more back pain, in some cases.
Remember that proper posture is important, and that switching up your routine may lead to more health benefits than going “all or nothing” with the ball method. For instance, Prevention recommends alternating between a desk chair and an exercise ball throughout the day, using the ball for 20–30 minute increments.
Could getting on your feet help you battle the health problems that come with sitting, and maybe even play a part in increasing your productivity?
Many people have found that the answer is yes, after making the switch to a standing desk.
Studies have shown that standing at work can have huge benefits. In various studies and trials, standing desks have been linked to:
- Decreased risk of weight gain and obesity
- Improved mood and energy levels
- Lower blood sugar levels
- Major improvements in lower back pain, upper back pain, and neck pain
In short, you can think of standing at work as the polar opposite of sitting. Increasing the amount of time that you spend standing and moving at the office can help ease pain, and counteract some of the health hazards that come with staying still for too long.
Of course, there are some caveats! Standing for too long can lead to more pain and stress over time, so health experts recommend alternating between standing and sitting throughout the day. Similarly, health experts recommend moving regularly while you stand, whether that means stretching your legs or walking in place. Generally speaking? The more active you can be, the better.
Also known as walking desks or treadputers (a favorite name of ours at ES), treadmill desks take standing desks one step further. Or, well, many steps further.
Basically, this set-up combines your workstation with a treadmill track, allowing you to get in steps while you take care of business.
And studies have shown that there are some major upsides to moving while you work! One trial, for example, found that introducing walking desks into the workplace increased the number of steps that employees took each day by about 1,000. Other studies have found that, over a year, switching to a treadmill desk increases daily activity, helps aid in weight loss, and may offer other benefits, including lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Any drawbacks? As one Business Insider reporter points out, using the treadmill desk for anything more than a gentle stroll can lead to sweating and shortness of breath, which isn’t always the best look (or smell) in the workplace. You may need to bring a change of clothes (and a bag of toiletries) if you’re going to go all out on the treadputer.
And studies have shown that exercising while you work can actually lead to slightly lower than average productivity. So, you may need to swap out the treadmill for a seat when you really need to focus and make the most of your time.
And now, the Enrollment Specialists would love to hear from you! What are some of your favorite ways to stay active at the office? Do you stretch or even practice yoga in between meetings? Make time for a stroll during lunch? We’d love to hear your secrets over on Facebook!
Introducing options to help your employees avoid sitting all day may be one way to make your team healthier and happier. Offering an attractive benefits package, including group health coverage, is another!
That’s where the Enrollment Specialists would love to help. Led by our own health and life insurance superhero Matt Peebles, we can help you find the right coverage for your needs, in less time than it takes to set up a new treadputer. Ready to say “I’ve Got A Guy!” for your small business’ insurance needs? Drop us a line today to get the conversation started!