Modern life is conducted mostly sitting down, whether it’s at a desk, in a meeting, in a car or train or at home. Not only is sitting really bad for us, it’s literally killing us!
There’s a wide variety of negative health effects associated with a lack of movement throughout the working day that Doctors call the ‘sitting disease’.
Some Sobering Facts About Prolonged Sitting
– When we sit, we’re not burning calories. We’ve known for years that prolonged sitting is linked to obesity and heart disease – the biggest killer in modern societies
– Closely linked are the metabolic diseases like diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol
– Then there’s the mechanical or Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) conditions; neck, back, shoulder pain, swollen ankles, heel pain…the list goes on
– Mental health is also impacted by prolonged sitting – in the same way our bodies are designed to move, so are our minds designed to control that movement. Excess sitting is also linked to low moods and depression
– And worryingly, we now know you can’t ‘undo’ the harm you do whilst sitting for 8 or 9 hours a day by going to the gym or taking a run in the evening
If some or all of your workforce has moved from the office to the home because of COVID-19, the health and mental well-being issues are likely to have been amplified
Fortunately, There is a Simple Solution
Research has proven that short, regular bursts of movement can greatly reduce the risk of the aforementioned health problems. Thirty seconds of activity, such as a simple stretch, is all it takes when done regularly – ideally, every half an hour or so.
A 1995 experiment set up by the university of Cincinnati showed that workers who took micro-breaks to stretch and move their muscles reported significantly less discomfort, even though the average break length was less than 50 seconds.
A landmark study from the Mayo Clinic showed that the impact of movement — even leisurely movement — can be profound: as well as burning more calories, most people will find an improvement in their energy, mood and mental well-being, especially as you age.
Tackling the sitting disease is good for well-being AND productivity!
According to a study by the University of Michigan, every dollar invested in workplace well-being will save an average of three dollars in the long term.
Can Regular, Unobtrusive Movements That Last Less Than a Minute REALLY be Beneficial?
The simple answer is yes! The research by the Mayo Clinic showed that the difference between lean and overweight people that did office based jobs was that lean people simply moved more – almost imperceptible movements, but they were regular and consistent – they moved habitually. They found the magic number to be just 11 minutes a day.
Certainly, the more sedentary the person, the greater the benefit of, for instance, taking a simple stretch. The more active person might need (or want) to do something more strenuous, but the key is consistency. And we are certainly not say that taking moments to move should replace a diet or health plan. It’s complimentary.
The Science of Creating New Habits
This is where a relatively new science comes into play: the behavioural science behind adopting new habits – in our case, the habit of moving more.
The (sitting) elephant in the room about exercise however is, for most of us, it sucks. It’s difficult, if we see a benefit at all it’s delayed and there are a million reasons to avoid it – especially at work.
But we do know there are some universal truths about human behaviour when it comes to starting and sustaining new ‘things’. We’re more likely to succeed when we get;
– reward or achievement (quickly)
– recognition and status
– autonomy or a sense of altruism in helping other people succeed
– (this is the less positive, but still powerful) anxiety or avoidance of loss through peer pressure
So, we nudge people to move and then invite them to ‘claim their reward’. We then show them their progress against their target (we use the 11 minute – 660 seconds as the daily target endorsed by the study from the Mayo Clinic). The more they do, they ‘rank-up’ and accrue points that can be used to buy premium Collections of Moves. They also see themselves on a Leaderboard and can help others.
BUT…..the proof of the pudding is in the eating!
Try it. Sign-up and give it a go.
If you have questions or feedback, reach out and ask.