With studies indicating that office workers have substantially higher rates of obesity than those in other professions, it is not surprising that cardiovascular problems, blood pressure and sugar levels can all be hazards of the job. What is a realistic solution that will get staff moving and working in equal measure?
Research also suggests that office workers are more likely to partake in unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as snacking and smoking, so you can see how pen-pushing can be classed as a positively unhealthy career choice. These findings may be concerning to employers who want productive, healthy staff rather than staff who are lethargic and prone to taking sick leave.
Some companies favour a flexible, hot desking approach that encourages staff to move around and change desks regularly. Scientific studies recommend that we should all take a break from sitting every 30 minutes; however, with a lack of personal, regular space and constant half-hourly strolls, how much work are staff really likely to get done?
Some top line managers even hold stand-up meetings in an attempt to keep attendees focused and engaged. Could the concept of a chairless, standing desk soon become commonplace in an office, or would this lead to all sorts of comfort and height issues?
Neuroscience continues to suggest that physical activity and intellectual ability are directly linked. Moving around is proven to get endorphins pumping and feel-good brain chemicals flowing, leaving us feeling positive, motivated and focused.
Research from The University of Arizona refers to evolution and how our ape-like ancestors evolved from sedentary primates into more active and intellectually competent nomads. When office workers are suffering from the infamous 2pm slump, perhaps a brisk walk could wake them up, improve their mood, and see them returning to work more focused and capable of completing the task in hand.
That said, the practicalities of office work do not lend themselves well to standing or walking about for prolonged periods, with comfort and concentration key in many office-based roles. The sedentary position might not be the healthiest, but it is a great equaliser and the only practical way to get certain jobs done.
While a lunchtime stroll can be a great way to stay fit and focused, the humble chair will retain its place in the office for a little while yet.
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