Occupational Health Advice: Are your staff active enough?

We all know we need to be more active, but there is increasing evidence that, as well as making sure you take regular exercise, that – aside from this – many of us need to try and spend less time sitting down.

Being inactive can endanger your health

Being inactive is now recognised as an independent risk factor  so sitting at a desk all day, for example, will affect workplace health.

The link between sitting for long periods of time and poor posture is well established, now studies have linked inactive behaviour with reduced mobility, being overweight and obese, type 2 diabetes,some types of cancer, cardiovascular events and premature  death.

In 2011 the UK government issued a new recommendation for minimising inactive behaviour but what are inactive behaviours?

Being active is not the same as being fit

People should not mistake ‘being inactive’ for meaning ‘not doing any exercise’.  Inactive behaviours include watching TV, using a computer, travelling by car, bus or train and sitting to read, talk or listen to music; but do not include sleeping.

An inactive  lifestyle refers to the amount of movement and activity you do throughout the day. So, even if you go to the gym, or for a walk daily, but are sitting at a desk for the rest of time you will still be inactive for significant amounts of time.

What is a heavy sitter?

Heavy sitters’, are defined as those who sit down for 7+ hours per day.

Fit people who exercise regularly are not automatically immune.  Even if you’re fit, the risk of ill health rises at the same rate for every hour spent seated!

There is currently not enough evidence to set a time limit on how much time people should be inactive each day. So the simple advice at this time, to reduce the risk of ill health from inactivity, is to exercise regularly, at least 150 minutes a week and reduce the time you spend sitting each day.

The importance of all-day movement

For optimum health we should BOTH be exercising regularly AND being more active in our daily routines. In other words, all-day movement is now seen as being just as important for the maintenance of good health as traditional exercise!

So the recommendations are to take a one or two minute active break from sitting every 30 minutes. Examples of active breaks include:  getting up and stretching; taking a short walk around the office; or taking telephone calls standing.

What employers can do

Business owners can also help themselves by ensuring their employees are aware of the dangers of inactivity and how to combat it.   The best way to do this is to seek professional occupational health advice to put strategic programmes in place.

Medigold Health is one of the last remaining privately owned independent occupational health providers in the UK of significant scale. We are meticulous in our approach and employ over 60 clinicians who understand that we only operate to the highest of standards. Contact our team now to find out how we can help safeguard your workplace health.

Related Links:

health in the workplace | uk occupational health companies | uk occupational health providers | workplace health