Top 10 tips for boosting your workplace wellness

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The first annual Higher Health Symposium at Northwestern Health Sciences University, in Bloomington, MN, was a fast-paced event that shed light on new research on workplace wellness. Hundreds of attendees and two Twin Cities television stations turned out to learn about the innovative solutions to health challenges in the workplace.

Carrie Schmitz, Marketing Research Manager at Ergotron, and Betsey Banker, Ergotron Vertical Market Manager for Wellness, were among the panel of industry experts. Here are the top 10 takeaways from their popular presentation, Worksite Wellness: Embracing a culture of movement for greater health and productivity:

  1. We’ve known for a long time that physical activity promotes wellness, but it’s in the last 20 years or so that the research has really started to accumulate about physical inactivity, in part because of the increase in sedentary jobs.
     
  2. In a recent survey of 1,000 knowledge workers, people reported spending only three hours standing or being active during the day, which is already not much, but might even be an overstatement.
     
  3. Physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality and is responsible for nearly one in 10 deaths in the U.S. alone.
     
  4. For the first time in history, our own lifestyle choices turn out to be more deadly than infectious diseases. What we eat and how much we move are the crucial factors that will determine both the quality and length of our lives.
     
  5. For employers, the cost associated with physically inactive employees is 15.3% more than those who are physically active.
     
  6. High-intensity physical activity doesn’t keep these effects from occurring. As one study concluded, “an hour of daily physical exercise cannot compensate the negative effects of inactivity on insulin level and plasma lipids if the rest of the day is spent sitting.”
     
  7. Sitting 6+ hours at work increases risks of mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.
     
  8. There are costs associated with all of these things. Stress – something many of us are familiar with – is estimated to cost $200-$300 billion a year in lost productivity.
     
  9. Low intensity, “non-exercise” activities like standing and walking are much more important than we realized. In fact, low-level activities play a crucial metabolic role and account for more of our daily energy expenditure than moderate- to high-intensity activity like running. We’re just scratching the surface of this incredibly important public health issue.
     
  10. Hundreds of researchers are currently actively collecting data that will inform recommendations on how often we need to move, how long we need to engage in that movement, and at what intensity. Here are just a few results from the research on the science of sedentary behavior.
     

Take a look at pdf’s of slides from this presentation, posted on the Higher Health Symposium website.

 

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Increasing awareness of sedentary behavior risks

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In 2013, the first JustStand® Index was released to better understand how sedentary the typical American is each day and to measure the overall awareness of sitting disease and its accompanying risks. In 2016, we revisited the exercise in order to see what changes had taken place over time.

Since the first Index, there has arguably been an increased understanding of the risks associated with a sedentary lifestyles. Several news articles and subsequent expert commentary have been published that highlight the ill effects of too much sitting. It follows then that the latest Index found overall awareness of what is known as “sitting disease” has more than doubled, from 7 percent in 2013 to 15 percent in 2016. In addition, more people believe that prolonged sitting could lead to an early death (from 74 percent to 86 percent).

Interestingly enough, one of the most telling data points is the one that had almost no significant statistical change. When respondents were asked if they personally believe they are at risk for sitting disease, less than half of respondents said yes (48 percent), compared to 47 percent in 2013. While awareness around sitting disease and its effects has risen, people seem to still be unaware that it needs to be addressed now or that they could personally be at risk.

Just-Stand-Index_Changes-Over-Time_640Why is sitting disease such an important issue for employers to consider? Since many employees spend a majority of their time seated at their desks, the workplace is where there is the biggest room for change. Employers should empower their employees to be more active at work and help increase their overall wellness – check out what one expert has to say:

Sedentary behavior is driving up healthcare costs and affecting performance and productivity. One almost shockingly simple solution is to get people moving. There’s so much that an executive or HR professional can’t control when it comes to what impacts employee wellness and productivity – like what people are eating or how much they’re sleeping – so it’s important that they take advantage of their influence in the office and workstation environment. Whether it’s standing meetings, walking paths or sit-stand workstations, employers can embrace movement in a way that has a positive impact on employee health and productivity every day.” – Betsey Banker, CWWPM, CWWS, wellness manager, Ergotron.

Providing a means for increased movement is one ways the employers can help increase their employees overall health.

How you can find ways to MOVE MORE:

As research continues to prove that sedentary behavior is a threat to our overall health, it’s critical to begin taking steps to increase activity throughout the day, beyond the general advice of exercising more. Utilizing tools to create simple lifestyle changes, such as a standing desk at work or a wall mount in a home office are easy ways to incorporate more movement into your day – thus reducing the effects of sitting all day.

To download the full e-book visit: www.juststand.org/JSindex

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Scientific concept: good vs. bad cholesterol

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Many of us are aware that the two basic kinds of cholesterol LDL and HDL can be thought of as the “good” and “bad” type, but do you know which is which?

Maybe this analogy will help you to remember:

LDL are Low density lipids – think of them as dust in a vacuum cleaner hose. LDL are light, fluffy particles that cling to and get stuck in the arteries which results in damage and inflammation that may lead to cardiovascular disease.

In contrast, HDL are high density lipids – think of them as forming a stiff brush. Since HDL particles are more dense than LDL particles, they dislodge the LDL  when moving through the arteries, just like a brush can clear out the dust from a dirty vacuum cleaner hose.

The optimum number for LDL is less than 100mg/dL and for HDL, it’s 60 mg/dL and higher, according to the National Institutes of Health.

To learn more about movement and heart health, check out research on the science of sitting and standing.

 

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Warning: your co-workers will be so jealous

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With the rise (literally) of the standing desk, you may be one of the 67% that would jump at the chance to grab one if it was offered at your workplace. After all, the health benefits of moving more throughout the day will enhance your life, and maybe even lengthen it. It can improve your mood, energy output, and yes, moving your desk up and down looks really cool!

If you do install one, get ready for a lot of questions and general curiosity from your work mates. “What’s that?,” everyone will ask when they first see you popping up above the cube wall. Don’t be surprised if interest turns to envy when you start showing off your relaxed posture, enhanced productivity and laser-point focus.

People can’t help talking about it. Like Jared S., who told us: “Still keep getting funny looks from people in the office. Well worth it!” Or Moses E., who said concisely: “Why sit when you can stand?” People’s reasons for standing and moving more are as varied as can be.

Want to join in the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram? Here are a few hashtags to get started: #SitLess #MoveMore #JustStand #StandingDesk.

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Scientific concept: movement and blood pressure linked

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Your doctor says you have high blood pressure (BP) with a reading of 140/90, but what do those numbers really mean? The larger top number, systolic, measures the pressure when the heart squeezes (beats) and blood moves out along the vessels. The smaller bottom number, diastolic, measures when the heart rests between beats and refills with blood. High BP or hypertension is a warning sign that your heart is overworked and at risk of heart attack, stroke, or aneurysm.

The World Health Organization says high blood pressure threatens more than 1 in 5 adults globally. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help prevent high BP. For one, research suggests moving more may help – think of physical activity as an all-around release valve for your heart. Find answers to your frequently asked questions about hypertension here.

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Which direction are you headed?

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Welcome to the MoveMore blog!

Which direction will you go? This way, that way, or somewhere else? One way leads to sedentary behavior, a silent killer, but the other way leads to physical activity, a life-giver. Exercise and N.E.A.T (non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or the energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise) offer a parallel path to health. We need both.

Moving more throughout your whole day, sometimes vigorously, sometimes lightly, is what will help you stay on the positive road to better health.

We have a vision of where the Wellness Uprising is heading, based on our continuing support of scientific research in the classroom and the cubicle. So we’ll be responding to your questions, offering up perspectives on the latest research into reducing sedentary behavior, illustrating some of the science behind the importance of sit-stand movement, and poking some fun at our fundamental human resistance to change.

Plus, this blog will introduce a new way for you to connect with like-minded seekers. After all, we’re on the road together, and it’s an active bunch to travel with.

You are here. It doesn’t matter where you entered. It doesn’t matter how you begin. Just jump in with us!

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