How to move more at work to increase motivation and improve health

Is sitting at a desk for 40 hours per week really that good for you? Here, we investigate.

It has been reported that middle-aged office workers are more sedentary than the majority of over 75 year olds. The study, conducted by Edinburgh University, found that a large proportion of middle-aged office workers (45-54 year olds) spend on average 7.8 hours per day sitting down, compared to 7.4 hours for men aged 75 years or older.

Considering the average working day is eight hours long, it’s unsurprising that office workers spend nearly all of this time sat down. Being constrained to a desk during working hours is unavoidable, but what is shocking is that a large percentage of these office workers remain sat down outside of their working hours, including lunch breaks.

Experts warn that high levels of sedentary time (ST) – more than seven hours daily – can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even some forms of cancer. According to the study, a large number of males are exceeding seven hours of ST during the working day, not including any time sat down during the evening.

Not only are extended periods of inactivity dangerous to workers’ health, it also reduces motivation and, consequently, productivity. Therefore, it’s essential to ensure your employees are moving more to reduce the risk of serious illness, and also increase their productivity.

How to move more at the office

Taking a brisk walk during your lunch hour, taking the stairs over the elevator, or even just getting away from your desk to go to the kitchen a few times during the day can make all the difference. Increasing your heart rate, even marginally, gets the blood flowing and feeds your brain with the oxygen it needs to function at its optimal level.

There is also evidence to suggest that sit-stand desks are effective at reducing the risk of health issues by limiting the amount of time sat down. Spending even a couple of extra hours per day on your feet could go a long way to reduce health risks.

Another slightly less conventional way to stay active at work is to practice ‘office yoga’. Office furniture supplier, Furniture at Work™ has put together an easy-to-follow routine in a light-hearted video that can be practiced from the comfort of your desk. Simple movements, such as the aptly named ‘long meeting’, can alleviate stiffness and help you feel re-energised after a long morning answering emails.

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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