The lifestyles we have in the modern world are contributing to a whole host of illnesses. A lack of exercise is partly to blame, and walking has been earmarked as a potential gateway to regular physical activity.
The human body is designed for movement, and extended periods of sitting, laying down or standing without a great of physical activity involved, can negatively impact various aspects of health.
Health experts have cited sedentary lifestyles as a contributing factor to a whole range of illnesses including cardiovascular health and reduced blood circulation, which increases the risk of blood clots and deep vein thrombosis.
It also contributes to diabetes, weight gain and muscle atrophy. A lack of physical exercise can also down-regulate emotions and contribute to depressive moods.
A growing number of studies show that prolonged sitting is associated with increased overall mortality and a higher risk of premature death. Add stress on top of that, and it’s clear to see why so many employees are absent with work-related stress or mental health conditions.
A survey compiled by Gallup shows that workers with poor mental health take almost 10 days of unplanned absences more than the annual average of 2.5. The loss of productivity in the US alone is estimated to be a $47.6 billion deficit on the economy.
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), work-related diseases account for the majority of all premature deaths linked to work activity, with estimates ranging from 2.3 million to 2.8 million deaths annually due to occupational diseases.
It’s, therefore in the interest of employees to encourage health and well-being best practices in the office.
How Walking Eases Pains of Sitting
Walking can be a beneficial and effective way to counteract some of the health risks associated with sedentary jobs. While it may not completely eliminate all the risks, regular walking breaks and physical activity can help mitigate the adverse effects of prolonged sitting.
Walking encourages blood flow and helps prevent blood from pooling in the legs due to prolonged sitting. This reduces the risk of blood clots and deep vein thrombosis. Regular walking also raises your heart rate, improves cardiovascular fitness, and helps maintain healthy blood pressure levels.
Because walking engages various muscles in the legs, hips, and core, it helps to prevent muscle atrophy caused by extended periods of sitting. Movement also releases endorphins, which can boost mood and help alleviate stress, anxiety, and feelings of monotony often associated with sedentary work.
Brisk walking also burns calories and contributes to weight management, helping counteract the weight gain associated with a sedentary lifestyle. The metabolic benefits improve insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Physical exercise has been shown to have positive effects on cognitive function, memory, and creativity. Taking short walks during the workday can refresh your mind and improve focus, potentially boosting productivity when you return to your tasks.
Walking increases blood flow and oxygen delivery to tissues, which can combat feelings of lethargy often associated with sitting and also helps to boost the immune system.
Walking Strategies in the Workplace
To encourage more physical activity in the workplace, employers can introduce strategies that involve walking.
Studies show that taking a 10-minute walking break every hour helps to enhance cognitive performance — and even lose weight! We’re not convinced about that one, but from personal experience, we can say that we are refreshed and have productivity spurge after taking a walk break.
If your office is close to a park or green space of any kind, take advantage of a walk in nature. Being around nature is shown to be the best place to take a walk for optimum health, physically and mentally.
Wherever possible, give yourself the opportunity to walk. For example, take the stairs rather than the elevator and park further away from the office. We also suggested walking meetings a while back — and you can read by clicking the link.
You should also tell your employees to download the Sweatcoin app to encourage them to walk more often. We convert steps into digital currency that you can use to purchase goods from over 300 merchants. It pays to walk.