May 13, 2016
By: Donna Kasian
The office. A place where many of us go to be productive, contribute to the growth of our organizations and earn a living. Our time at the office can be inspiring and rewarding, but it can also be extremely damaging to our health.
Most offices are designed to allow people to sit down at desks to do their work. Technology has allowed us to become more efficient and productive than ever before, but it has also brought us to sitting for long periods of time.
It doesn’t have to be this way! There are ways to think differently about our office layouts and designs. There are ways to use technology to our advantage, to make it easier to avoid our desk chairs and work in new and innovative ways - ways that are better for our well-being.
If you find yourself spending long periods of time sitting while you work, know that there are alternatives. If you want to start being more active, it is possible to start at the office!
Office furniture has moved beyond the traditional desk and chair, and there are more options than ever to allow employees to incorporate movement into their work day. We now can incorporate exercise balls, standing and treadmill desks to allow us to get our work done without needing to remain sitting. But let’s take it even further – a standing desk can replace a boardroom table. Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., reported that groups collaborating on a project while standing were more “engaged and less territorial” than while they were seated. If we think differently about the way that we function in the office, we can find new ways to avoid sitting.
Work stations can easily be converted to allow you to switch positions at regular intervals. Simply standing for periods of time is healthier than remaining seated. Sit-stand desks allow you to easily move from sitting to standing without interrupting your work flow.
If you’re already standing, you can switch positions by taking a short walk, touching your toes or stretching your legs. The key is to be mindful of how long you’re stationary in one position, and to make the effort to move as often as possible. Surround yourself with tools to help you move.
Portability can encourage movement. Mobile phones and laptop computers allow us to get our work done from just about any location. Communal working lounges allow employees to move away from the assigned desk concept. By simply re-positioning office equipment, we can encourage movement and more positive social interaction.
Book a meeting room on another floor, and then take the stairs to get there. If the day is nice, plan to meet at a table outdoor, or even better, walk while you talk.
There are so many different and small changes that both employers and employees can make to our work environment to promote positive physical movement in the workplace. Do you have other suggestions? We’d love to hear from you. How do you integrate physical activity into daily office life?
Donna Kasian is a Rehabilitation Specialist in the Insurance - Group Disability industry. She provides disability management services to plan members with an emphasis on implementing appropriate treatment measures and successful return to work outcomes. Donna has also worked in the hospital environment in the Occupational and Recreational Therapy department, focusing on treatment intervention to aid in improved function and increased independence post injury or illness. She has also worked in Occupational Rehabilitation facilities, assisting injured workers by implementing appropriate treatment and return to work programs.
She has always had a passion working with people and making a positive difference in their lives! She enjoys the beautiful Rockies, loves to cook and surround herself with dynamic people.
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Today, on International Women’s Day, I have chosen to profile Laurel Walzak, the female co-founder of Fitneff Inc. Laurel has been successful in so many areas of her career - first as a trailblazer in the sports business industry, then as an entrepreneur and most recently as an Assistant Professor of Sports Media at Ryerson University.
Laurel also spends a great deal of her time and energy outside the office in efforts to advance the careers of young women who are making their start. I asked Laurel some important questions about the role of women in business, and the role that she plays in advocating for other women in her life.