Recent research has shown that sitting down for extended periods of time can be incredibly hazardous to your health. In fact, some researchers have gone as far as comparing sitting for too long to asbestos or smoking. They say that the risk of cancer and preventable illness is so high with a sedentary lifestyle that companies are obligated to find ways to change the habits of their employees. If you work at an office job, you probably sit for a very long time. If you work an eight-hour job, you probably spend most of those hours sitting at a desk. The best way to get your work done in a timely manner is to sit there for as long as possible and not move. You want to stay devoted to the task at hand. In short, this could be damaging your health.
Sitting for extended periods of time has been shown to produce higher rates of heart disease, colorectal cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type II diabetes, and other health issues. What’s interesting about these studies is they find the effect to be twofold: inactivity leads to many different health problems and so does sitting itself.
How to Fight Inactivity
Inactivity or a sedentary lifestyle leads to heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and several other problems. This happens because you are not engaging in cardiovascular exercise. Your heart is a muscle. Cardiovascular exercises work your heart so that it’s stronger and more efficient. A stronger, more efficient heart pumps more blood per heartbeat and helps to clear build-ups from your veins, so the blood flows easily and smoothly. Cardiovascular exercise releases endorphins that stimulate hormones that improve your mood and increase your energy levels.
When you’re sitting at a desk all day, you’re not getting that exercise. If you’re working eight or more hours a day, you might feel like you don’t even have time to work out. Well, that’s not entirely true. A simple office redesign and a change of workplace habits can help you combat the effects of a lack of exercise.
Redesigning your office so you can encourage your employees to move a little bit more can be helpful. If you’re moving into a new office, or you just want a new fitout, you should think about how much you and your employees are moving. For example, you should make sure you have signs up throughout your office pointing to the stairs. Place a sign next to the elevator directing people to use the stairs. Those who want to take the elevator or who have physical reasons for needing the elevator can still take it, but those who do not will be reminded that they can take the stairs. Taking the stairs works the heart just a little bit and burns a few calories in the process. That tiny bit of exercise won’t turn you into an Olympic athlete, but it will help fight against the negative effects of a sedentary workday.
You can also arrange the workspaces so they’re far from the bathrooms or elevators. That will encourage your employees to walk a few extra steps to the bathroom or a few extra steps when they get off the elevator. That little bit of exercise will be just another way of encouraging a healthy lifestyle through the office design. These little bits of exercise are not going to be panaceas in and of themselves. However, they can add up to promoting healthier living.
How to Fight the Effects of Sitting
The research that found inactivity is harmful reinforces ideas that have been widespread for decades. Most people are very aware that physical exercise is good for your heart, your muscles, and your bones. It improves your mood as well as your health. The interesting part of the research is the implication that sitting itself can be damaging to your health. Sitting down for extended periods of time causes blood to flow irregularly and pool in certain areas. It causes certain muscles to weaken in uneven ways, and it places odd stresses on the bones. These problems are exacerbated by poorly designed office furniture. A SaracenInterior office design focusing on the health and productivity of your employees can help fight the negative effects of a sedentary workplace.
Many of the problems of sitting too long can be exacerbated by the design of basic furniture. Fitting your office with furniture that is ergonomically designed for the body can help create healthier and more comfortable employees. Companies that offer office fit-outs are oftentimes on the cutting edge of new office technology. For example, one of the most popular chair designs these days is a zero-G (zero gravity) chair. These chairs are designed to mimic the natural position of the spine as if you were weightless, hence the name. They’re designed to keep stress off of your back and joints.
Standing desks are also increasingly popular. Some of these desks are stationary and some are adjustable from a sitting to a standing position. They are, as the name implies, desks that are designed to be used while standing. Interestingly, the prevalent research about sitting has found that breaking up long periods of sitting with standing and stretching will probably help avoid many health problems. The problem truly is sitting for unending stretches of time. The amount of time you spend sitting isn’t quite as deleterious as the lack of interruptions in the sitting.
A standing desk will allow you to shift to a standing position, which encourages blood flow and relieves joint stress. Many newer office fit-outs feature standing desks for certain offices. They also feature standing tables for meetings. Researchers found that for short meetings, standing produces more productive results from your employees compared to sitting through the entire meeting. People are more attentive and more participatory when they are standing at a meeting. Not only will standing help you stay healthier, but it can also increase your business’s productivity.
An office fit-out designed to increase productivity and improve health can increase the happiness and well-being of your employees. Standing at your desk, taking the stairs, and stretching occasionally can all help you stay healthy longer.