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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- For employers, the cost associated with physically inactive employees is 15.3% more than those who are physically active.
- 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.”
- Sitting 6+ hours at work increases risks of mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.