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.
High amounts of prolonged sitting can result in conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, one expert stated.