Recently I have read a few reports which say sitting is the new smoking. In other words, doing a job that ties you to a desk for the majority of the day has as much of an adverse impact on you health as smoking does.
But what can you do about this when your job requires you to be at a desk or sitting/standing in the one spot for most of the day?
Personally, I believe that taking a short break is beneficial to both mental and physical health. How often do you find yourself mindlessly tapping away at your keyboard, or just going through the motions waiting for the end of the day? Wouldn’t it be great to take a quick break, refresh your mind, step outside for 5 minutes if that’s practical, then come back to your desk feeling more focused and attentive to the job in hand?
I’m actually quite fortunate as, although I do work at a desk, I can take the odd five minutes away to walk or stretch – although not so much the stretching, I’m not sure how my boss would react if he walked in to find me doing walking lunges in my office. Although I guess there is only one way to find out how he would react… Other colleagues are not so lucky and have a constant stream of visitors and phone calls that mean they can’t really leave their desk for any length of time.
So what can we do? Smokers are allowed to have a smoke break, should there be a move toward company policies that include ‘movement breaks’ where employees are encouraged to walk or do some stretches, squats and lunges throughout their day? Perhaps our lunch hour could be split into a lunch half hour and 2 x 15 minutes breaks for movement?
Do you work for a company that encourages movement breaks? How do they make it work? If you are a senior manager, how would you make this work for your company? Is it something you would support? Research seems to support the fact that taking time to move around and refocus increases productivity but a lot of people (myself included) feel guilty about walking away from their desk for a non-business reason. Have you tried a standup desk or a treadmill desk? What are your thoughts on these?
Even if your company has no official policy in place, have you found creative ways to increase movement throughout your day?
Even if you are a regular gym goes, is one hour or so per day enough to make much of an impact? Sometimes I feel that with 24 hours in a day, one hour of exercise isn’t really enough but it is better than nothing.
I’ve asked a lot of questions because the lack of movement in day to day life does bother me and I’d love to find ways to help people be more active. Please share your ideas/thoughts in the comments below.