Health

Stand Up to All Those Sit-Down Desks

Smart steps to help you change your sedentary ways — and live a longer, healthier life

More and more companies are investing in the “movement” of their employees for their own health and well-being, given the link between sedentary habits and poor health.

Priority Health in western Michigan, for example, is renovating its entire work space, adding ergonomic features such as stand-up desks, adjustable monitors, and lots of natural sunlight.

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Company health coaches Catherine Cooley and Kris Rich are happy to see such an investment, as better ergonomics can lead to healthier employees, higher productivity, and lower health care costs. In the video above, the two outline a number of ways employees can take control of their own health if their employer doesn’t have the funds or the desire to make such changes.

Standing up routinely during the day, taking the stairs to a restroom on another floor, and walking to a coworker’s desk instead of sending an email or message all help.

Bringing a homemade lunch, drinking plenty of water, and keeping healthy snacks on hand versus hitting the vending machines or fast-food joints will also help with health goals.

Related: The Best Workout Spot is Right in Front of You

The reason for adding more natural sunlight to a workspace, Cooley told Fox 17 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is that it can help regulate circadian rhythms and in turn, one’s sleep schedule.

And for those workers with young children at home or an interest in helping young people stay healthier longer, a new study out this week is worth knowing about as well: Physical activity levels actually start to taper off as early as the age of seven. The study, published Monday in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, found that while physical activity levels during childhood may be adequate, they fall off sharply during adolescence, especially for girls.

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Kids are spending too much time on smartphones and computers, and they’re not walking or bike riding to school the way children of earlier generations did, experts said. “Physical inactivity is society’s silent killer … The biggest tragedy is that it’s creeping up on our children before they’ve even left the playground,” Jack Shakespeare, Head of ukactive Kids, told The Telegraph. 

Extra funding for school sports would help solve some of the problem, he said. But better results would be found in a “cultural shift” that “protect[s] an inactive generation from a lifetime of health problems … It’s not just a case of buying more bats and balls for the PE cupboard. We have to embrace creative solutions and look at how we harness our digital dependence to build movement back into children’s lives, instead of taking it away,” he said.

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