By Emily Henry
A very disturbing graphic was published in the Washington Post earlier this year, laying out the health hazards of sitting for too long — whether it’s at a desk all day or watching television in the evening. I can admit to being guilty of both. However, while switching out the evening routine seems simple enough, what about all the work that needs to get done during the day on my computer? What choice do I really have, prior to the invention of the floating laptop? It seemed ironic that doing this job, which focuses on improving the healthcare industry and promoting better health overall, could be damaging to my health. Sitting for longer than half an hour can have a negative impact on vital organs, muscles, circulation and bones, according to research. Additionally, it’s just not as productive: the lack of fresh blood can cause a foggy brain, lack of focus and low energy. So, there’s even a business case for encouraging regular activity on the job.
Diane and I discussed this conundrum and she suggested SWI’s first Employee Wellness Program. The aim of the program, which we’re calling “Healthy Role Models,” is to spend an hour a day on the clock doing some form of exercise, whether it’s walking, cycling or yoga. Additionally, in order to promote good posture and core engagement, we’ve swapped out our office chairs for stability balls and aim to practice some at-desk exercises.
Around half of all U.S. employers offer some kind of employee wellness promotion, according to a RAND study, and the Affordable Care Act is promoting the practice by offering incentives and allowing increased financial rewards of up to 30 percent of the cost of health coverage, or 50 percent for programs aimed at reducing or preventing tobacco use. So, it’s a great time for companies to experiment and see what works.
So far, the hardest part of SWI’s “Healthy Role Models” seems to be consciously dedicating time during the day to participating in an hour’s exercise. I try to schedule it into my calendar and treat it as a mandatory work task, and it seems to be working. I’ve not only noticed greater productivity following the hour’s activity, but I’m even experiencing an uptick in anticipation of my daily walk, cycle or yoga practice. I look forward to getting up out of my chair and changing the scenery, and I work harder to ensure I get there.
Speaking of which, it’s time to ditch the desk and make for the mat for an hour of vinyasa. Coming up on the SWI Blog, Diane will share her experience bouncing to good health as part of SWI’s “Healthy Role Models” program.
How do you stay active at your desk job? Does your company have an employee wellness program? Share your ideas and experience in the comments below.