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Workplace solutions to increase physical activity

workplace solutions to increase physical activity
Full length Asian business team meeting, walking and having discussion over office.

We know the importance of physical activity for reducing the risk of diabetes and helping to prevent diabetes complications for those who already have the condition. Yet most adults spend over seven hours a day engaged in sedentary behaviour, according to a study in the online journal BMJ Open.

The same study suggests that life expectancy could be boosted by two years if adults reduced their sitting time to less than three hours a day. A tough challenge for many people in desk-bound jobs, which includes many individuals with diabetes.

Let’s look at some workplace solutions to increase physical activity

Sitting disease

The health problems of sedentary behaviour are becoming so common that a new term has been coined: sitting disease.

Endocrinologist Dr. James Levine, a professor at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, has had his research on the topic published in the British Medical Journal. He has determined that putting more Non-Exercise-Activity-Thermogenesis (N.E.A.T) in your life is metabolically more effective than seeking organized exercise.

Dr. Levine practices what he preaches: he works from a treadmill at his desk. In collaboration with Steelcase, Dr. Levine created the Walkstation, a desk treadmill that allows workers to keep walking while they work at their desks.

Workplace solutions

Some organizations are adapting to integrate physical activity into the workplace routine. In addition to 'stand-sit desks' and 'Walkstation' treadmills, they have created spaces that incorporate walking paths in the workplace. They encourage `walking meetings`, with attendees wearing badges to indicate they are in a meeting.

Here are some more ideas that employers and employees alike can use to increase physical activity in the workplace:

  • Instead of using land phones, switch to wireless phones and make calls while walking
  • Walk to colleagues` workstations to talk to them in person instead of always using email
  • Instead of sitting down for the entire lunch break, walk for 30 minutes before eating
  • Instead of sitting down for a meeting, talk to colleagues on the move as you walk
  • Park at the end of the car park
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • If a job involves sitting down for long periods, make a point of getting up and moving around for at least ten minutes every hour. You may find it helpful to set an alarm as a reminder

If you have ideas to increase physical activity in the workplace, please share them in the Physical activity discussion forum. We would especially love to hear about ideas that organizations have used to make the workplace a healthier place through increased activity.

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Diabetes Care Community is the author of articles on a wide range of diabetes topics. All of these articles are written to a high standard of quality. They are reviewed for accuracy with health care professionals and, wherever possible, will adhere to the Canadian 2013 Diabetes Clinical Practice Guidelines. It is our wish that you find our articles helpful. We welcome your feedback and comments.

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