Our Wellbeing experts raise the impact of prolonged sitting in this short blog from the People & Safety Services team.
The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work has reported the health risks associated with prolonged static sitting at work, affecting staff’s physical and mental health. With many jobs becoming more sedentary, mounting evidence now links employees spending prolonged periods working in inactive positions has increased health risks. The report identified several health risks linked to prolonged sitting, defined as being sedentary for two hours or longer. These include lower back pain, upper limb disorders (ULDs), type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, obesity, certain types of cancers and mental health issues.
How can we prevent problems?
Here are some ideas to help staff reduce prolonged sitting and also boost their wellbeing:
- Stand up, get away from the desk, walk around the room. You can do this when taking a call, for example.
- Ensure you take a lunch break where you leave your desk, walk to a local shop, or even just stand and prepare something at home.
- Keep some exercise equipment nearby, such as a set of hand weights. When taking a break from your screen time, you can spend 5 to 10 minutes exercising.
- Please ensure you have plenty of water; smaller glasses are better, as these will mean you need to get up more often to refill them.
- Do some stretching exercises.
- Use your Fitbit or other devices to prompt you to move or stand after a period of sitting; try and achieve your 250 steps for that hour!
- Block Your Calendar for Breaks: home working often makes people feel guilty for taking breaks. Block your calendar for lunch and tea breaks. This lets people know you are away and means you won’t feel the need to be at your desk.
- Vary work tasks, avoid long periods of static sitting or repeating the same job for an extended period.
- Try different tasks in different places – for example, moving around/going outside while on mobile calls.
- For longer video calls:
- Build in regular breaks to give everyone a chance to move and to help avoid ‘Zoom fatigue’
- Use wireless headsets or earphones to move around/change posture.
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