Active Wellness at Work: Moving Throughout the Workday
Work Wellness

Active Wellness at Work: Moving Throughout the Workday

|Aug 25, 2023

What is the dream job like? Many people want to spend most of the day sitting in the office, while others prefer roles involving physical exertion. Both options may be great depending on your needs and preferences, but both require adjustments to support and benefit employee wellness at work.

Fortunately, many wellness activities can boost employees' physical health and take their well-being to the next level. If that is what you need for your organization, you've come to the right place! 

Here's everything you need to know about worksite wellness and several ideas to promote physical activity during the workday, benefiting both your staff and your company. Read on!

How Sedentary Behavior Negatively Affects Health and Productivity?

The term "sedentarism" has become quite popular in recent years, but what does it really mean? 

Essentially, "sedentarism" is the opposite of being physically active. It may involve different low-effort actions, such as sitting, sleeping, and lying down. A person with a sedentary lifestyle tends to have habits and routines with low movement levels. 

While working in a quiet office where you can sit for hours without much work to do is a dream for many, a sedentary lifestyle can have negative effects on your health. 

Low levels of physical activity can cause adverse physical health outcomes, increasing the risk of diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. 

Unfortunately, these negative effects can also impact people's mental health. Those who don't participate in physical activities frequently are at a higher risk of depression or anxiety. 

In addition, due to their effect on physical and mental health, work-related sedentary behaviors have also been associated with a reduced productivity level, which greatly affects organizations. 

Many employers have raised concerns about the potential for low productivity levels if their employees have sedentary lifestyles or routines. As a result, it has become a public health priority. 

Companies have started implementing environmental changes and behavioral interventions to combat sedentary lifestyles at workplaces.

Behavioral interventions seek to encourage employees to be physically active through social support, motivational techniques, and computer or smartphone prompts. 

In addition, employers have started modifying their workplaces to create spaces where employees can exercise and participate in wellness activities that promote movement.

How Sedentary Behavior Negatively Affects Health and Productivity? 

Benefits of an Active Work Environment on Employee Health and Job Performance

As mentioned, prioritizing employees' wellness can benefit both workers and companies, as it can improve people's health while increasing productivity levels. 

Achieving Wellness at Work to Improve Employee Health

People with a sedentary job often struggle to get enough movement throughout the day. Many don't even walk a decent number of steps each day. 

However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explain that adults need at least 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise each week if moderate or 75 minutes if high-intensity. 

In addition, people should include resistance training for at least two days, targeting each major muscle group every week. 

Low physical activity levels are associated with a higher risk of disease and obesity. Therefore, an active work environment has a positive influence on people's physical health

In addition, human beings burn a significant portion of energy throughout the day from non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), which includes all kinds of unintentional or non-planned exercise or those calorie-burning activities that result from daily routine. 

NEAT keeps individuals' energy intake and output balanced to avoid being overweight. Experts explain that it's responsible for around 50% of the total energy expenditure of people who are active throughout the day. However, it drops drastically to only 6-10% in those with a sedentary lifestyle. 

Fortunately, there's a potential solution. If you add more movement into your workday through different activities, you can increase your NEAT and create an energy balance. 

As a result, you'll combat the effects associated with weight gain and a sedentary lifestyle, including heart failure, diabetes, stroke, poor mental health outcomes, and more.

Achieving Wellness at Work to Improve Employee Health

Effects of Worksite Wellness on Job Performance

People spend most of their waking hours working, so wellness activities not only improve their health but have a positive impact on their work performance and productivity. 

Physical activity generates next-day resources, also called "resource caravans," which contribute to positive outcomes. 

A person who exercises during the day usually enjoys quality sleep, which benefits the body and brain, for example. As a result, their work performance will be better.

Plus, activities that involve movement generate another important resource directly related to energy – vigor. People will have more vitality to perform their tasks during the day and are more likely to achieve better results. 

Finally, there's the third resource – task focus. As it's directly related to a person's cognitive abilities, it supports concentration, information processing, and attention. 

Incorporating physical activity throughout the day not only improves workplace wellness on an organizational level but also on an individual level. More effective and cognitive resources usually result in stronger self-rated creative performance and job self-efficacy. 

In addition, exercise may reduce daily bodily pains, which also boost wellness at work by improving workers' perception of the workplace.

Effects of Worksite Wellness on Job Performance

How to Promote Physical Activity and Movement During the Workday?

If you want to contribute to your employees' health and job performance, you can implement different ideas, such as changing a traditional table for a stand-up desk or designing a comprehensive wellness program. 

Here are more ideas to create a healthy work environment for your employees: 

Take Active or Movement Breaks

When you set timers for active breaks, you'll increase movement in an easy way. Each worker can choose the time that works for them and set up several 5- or 10-minute sessions throughout the day.

Active breaks can include light stretches or short walks. These exercises can combat pain, muscle imbalances, and stiffness caused by sitting for prolonged periods. In addition, they increase energy expenditure.

Take Active or Movement Breaks 

Set Up a Movement Workstation

Staying active during the workday will be much easier if you have access to different tools that facilitate movement. You can switch your traditional furniture for an L-shaped adjustable desk, for example. 

Desks with height adjustment options can adapt to different body types and sizes or postures, reducing the adverse effects of sitting for long periods. While standing doesn't burn too many calories, they'll add up and contribute to your daily energy expenditure. 

Also, you can alternate sitting and standing with active breaks involving walking. The benefits to your physical health are endless, especially if exercising is challenging for you. 

If you have more stamina or are used to working out regularly, you can add a treadmill to your workstation and double your daily step count. It's one of the best out-of-the-box wellness ideas for employees.

Set Up a Movement Workstation

Go Outdoors If You Have the Chance

Encourage your employees to use their lunch time wisely to add more movement to their workday! 

When you have extra time at lunch, you can go for a walk. Besides adding more physical activity to your routine, walking after a meal can help you control your blood sugar levels. 

In addition, walking is one of the best wellness activities for employees because it favors habit-building or stacking. Since all workers have lunch every day, stacking a walk onto this habit will make it easier to integrate into their daily routine. 

Walk Through the Office

When workers have to answer a call, pacing the room instead of sitting in the office can make all the difference. 

Besides increasing physical activity levels, walking across a room while completing another task, such as taking a call, can increase creativity. 

Try Walking Meetings

Have you heard about walking meetings? Essentially, it's like walking while taking a call. Just do the same when attending a meeting if you feel comfortable. 

Even if you have an ergonomic office chair, you should stand up and stretch your legs from time to time to enjoy optimal wellness at work. Therefore, when you have a one-on-one meeting or brainstorming session, you can pace the room instead of sitting down. 

As mentioned, attending a meeting on the move not only offers physical benefits but can increase your creativity, which is essential for better job performance.

Try Walking Meetings

Consider Desk Exercises

Whether you have a traditional or adjustable smart desk, you can do multiple exercises while sitting or standing to keep moving and burn more calories. 

Some people use an under-the-desk peddler, for example. It's another one of the best out-of-the-box wellness ideas to improve employees' health and work performance. 

Additionally, workers can use resistance bands and dumbbells, keeping them nearby to grab them during their breaks, while taking a call, or while attending an online meeting. 

Use Stairs Whenever Possible

If your office or building has stairs, that's another excellent opportunity to add movement to your routine. 

Encourage your employees to skip the elevator and take the stairs whenever they can. This activity can help you burn three times more calories than standing or walking. In addition, stair climbing reduces the risk of diseases and boosts your fitness level.

Use Stairs Whenever Possible 

Implement Active Sitting

This is another of the most efficient wellness ideas for employees, as it's easy to implement and doesn't involve expensive tools. 

Active sitting, also known as dynamic sitting, is a form of sitting that engages and strengthens the back and core muscles. It involves changing working positions regularly or performing certain movements. 

Since this method helps you keep your body moving while sitting, you'll use your muscles and emulate the natural movements your body makes when you stand or walk. 

As a result, you'll be able to eliminate stiffness and pain, strengthen your core, improve blood circulation, promote calorie burning, and more!

Implement Active Sitting

Designing Comprehensive Wellness Programs

If you're an employer or run an organization, you should also design a comprehensive wellness program to offer a healthy work environment that boosts employees' well-being and performance. 

The best wellness programs give employees tools, incentives, support, and strategies to maintain healthy routines and adopt positive habits. In addition, they offer many other benefits, including the following: 

  • Help reduce stress and anxiety
  • Boost morale and enthusiasm
  • Increase employee engagement
  • Improve corporate culture and public image
  • Enhance problem-solving skills
  • Motivates employees to make better decisions
  • Reduce health care costs
  • Increase employee retention 

With the best wellness program ideas, you can take your organization to the next level and turn your workplace into the ideal space for employees who care about their health.

Designing Comprehensive Wellness Programs

Other Key Aspects to Consider 

In addition to the out-of-the-box wellness ideas for creating a healthy work environment listed above, you can consider the following recommendations to make movement more natural: 

  • Consider brain breaks for adults and encourage your employees to rest when necessary
  • Keep basic fitness equipment within sight
  • Add comfortable flooring, especially if you plan to use standing desks
  • Encourage employees to find a workout buddy and offer social support to increase their movement
  • Always wear comfortable shoes and encourage your employees to do the same to increase their desire to move throughout the day
  • Use headsets with microphones for calls or meetings if you plan to walk while taking them 

Autonomous Ring - Habit promise for a better you

Invest in Standing Desks for Improved Wellness at Work!

Do you want to improve wellness at work to boost your well-being and improve your employees' mental and physical health? A standing desk can make a difference! 

These pieces of furniture offer many benefits, such as giving workers an energy burst, improving posture, reducing back pain, and promoting blood circulation. 

Additionally, alternating between sitting and standing can also improve your mood and focus, helping you feel better throughout the day and perform better when completing tasks. Therefore, standing desks are good investments for organizations, employees, and freelancers. 

If you're looking for the best home standing desk or want an alternative for your office, you can find a great option at Autonomous. 

The brand offers workplace furniture at great prices and with the highest quality. The Autonomous SmartDesk Core has a solid steel frame that supports up to 270 lbs with ease. In addition, it has multiple height-adjustment features and programmable keypad settings you can use to create the perfect workstation tailored to your needs, body type, and preferences. 

This high-quality standing desk also offers a generous height range and has simple controls for greater convenience, so it may be ideal for all employees, whether they work at the office or from home.

Standing Desks

Final Thoughts

Many wellness activities can improve employees' health and work performance. However, you don't have to spend hours creating an exhaustive workout routine for your workday. 

With a few adjustments and tools, you can add more movement to your routine in the easiest way and motivate your employees to do the same. 

If you want to boost wellness at work, remember that Autonomous offers multiple options when it comes to standing desks, ergonomic chairs, and more. Find more information about these products on the brand's website.

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