For a lot of us, our workplace is where we spending a lot of our time. Some of us are required to be on our feet and active for the duration of our workday, while others are tied to a desk staring at a computer. The World Health Organisation and Australian Government have recognised the workplace as a priority setting for health promotion. The cost of absenteeism in Australia is estimated at $7 billion each year, yet research shows that workplace health programs resulted in a 25% decrease in sick leave absenteeism, 41% decrease in workers compensation costs, 24% decrease in disability management costs and $5.81 of savings for every $1 invested in employee wellbeing.
Do you know what the dangers of sitting still are and how you can combat these?
Working in jobs such as business administration, office workers are often categorised with long hours of sitting in an office, usually at a desk in front of a computer.
Office workers can often spend much of their day being sedentary while completing their workplace jobs. The biggest concern for those that are working in business and administrations roles is the harmful effects of sitting for long periods of time. Australian statistics show that 68.5% of the workforce are either sedentary or have very low levels of activity. Essentially when we go to work and sit for up to 8 hours without proper movement we are placing serious effects on our health.
It is also these sedentary occupations that can lead to an increased risk of injuries, and a number of chronic health issues ( Obesity, Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack etc.).
Why is Exercise so important?
Regular physical activity not only helps to improve your overall health and wellbeing but also can reduce your risk of many chronic health conditions.
When people spend prolonged periods of time living within a restricted range of motion such as being seated in the chair for long periods of time problems such as poor ankle dorsiflexion, poor hip flexion/extension, poor knee flexion, poor thoracic extension, poor scapula retraction and poor arm flexion can arise. This can turn into a vicious cycle where people stop moving due to pain however the pain is centred around no movement. Such as the saying goes “if you don’t move it, you will lose it!”
One of the biggest problems with all of the sitting we do is the impact it has on shortening our hip flexors and shutting off our glutes, ultimately limiting our ability to perform hip extension. Excessive sitting while working can also lead to postural issues. Over time, poor posture demands support from the phasic fibres causing the deeper supporting muscles in the back to waste away from lack of use. Weak, unused muscles tend to tighten and this shortening of muscle length can compact the bones of the spine (vertebrae) and worsen posture, which often leads to back pain.
Taking the time to stretch and take part in physical activity during the day can have numerous benefits to both your health and wellbeing. This is why we have established our Top 5 Exercises each worker can perform at their desk to help them to stay active throughout their working day.
5 Exercises to do at your desk
See videos below for detailed explanations and demonstrations on each exercise
1. Hip Flexor Stretch – 3 x 30sec holds each side
2. Torso Rotation – 3 x 30 sec holds each side
3. Chest Stretch – 3 x 30 sec holds
4. Sit-to-Stand – 3 x 10 (use a stable chair that does not have wheels)
5. Glute Bridges – 3 x 10 (with 2 sec pause at top)
Tips to stay active at work
• Walking meetings are a great way for you and your colleagues to get active while you discuss work. Go for a walk around the block while you discuss work details.
• Talk face-to-face with colleagues rather than sending an email.
• When taking a lunch break, instead of sitting down to eat, go for a walk outside in the fresh air, take part in some lunchtime stretches. You’ll find it’s a great way to relieve stress and fit exercise into a busy schedule.
• Organise the layout of your office so that you need to stand up to use or retrieve often used files, the telephone, printer etc rather than having it at an easy reach. Ideally it would be beneficial to stand up every 10-15minutes so by simply moving a few things around in your office space you can easily build this movement into your normal working day.
• Rest intervals – after been sitting for 30mins or more stand up and walk around your desk, or walk to the printer/photocopier and back to your desk before sitting down again.
• Standing desks are a great way to break up sitting for too long, these handy devices can be often used in both seated and standing positions and are a great investment.
• Take the stairs and not the elevator
• Park a little further away from the office to increase the steps you take before and after work.
An accredited exercise physiologist can assist in developing a tailored strategy to assist in being more physically active at work –
Contact Chloe Egan to find out some more information on how she can assist you and your workplace email@example.com