Reduce absenteeism by promoting exercise

by Cameron Edmond08 Jan 2014
High amounts of prolonged sitting can result in conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, one expert stated.
 
Chris Tzar, chair of the Exercise is Medicine Australia initiative, stated that due to negative effects on metabolic and cardiovascular health, prolonged sitting can have an adverse effect on individuals. A lack of muscle contractions in the legs can also reduce circulation.

“We also know that there is a high price for lack of productivity on Australian businesses,” he said. “A sound workplace health program can decrease absenteeism by 25%, decrease workers compensation costs by 40% and decrease disability management costs by 24%.”
 
These risks can noticeably drop even with light-intensity activities and interrupting sitting-time. Regardless of total sitting time, regular interruptions such as standing up can reduce the risks of heart disease and diabetes, as well as promote circulation.
 
Key HR takeaways
There isn’t a need to invest in an office gym. Tzar outlined some simple interventions to substantially increase workplace health:
  • Encouraging staff to interrupt their sitting time every 30 minutes for 2 minutes – or at least every hour for 2-4 minutes, perhaps scheduling a stretch break every hour.
     
  • Introducing height-adjustable desks to promote standing.
     
  • Promote standing or walking meetings.
     
  • Introduce extra-long telephone cords or telephone headsets to enable employees to stand during phone calls.
 
“Adults who sit less throughout the day have a lower risk of death – particularly from cardiovascular disease. Encouraging employees to get up from their desks and move more frequently could be a life-saving strategy,” Tzar concluded.

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