As digital marketers we spend a LOT of time sitting in front of the computer. We know that our bodies aren’t meant to be sedentary, and there’s plenty of research and studies documenting the plethora of diseases, injuries, and negative health effects caused by prolonged sitting. But why haven’t we brought this education to our workplaces?
Sitting Down The Slow Killer
Even at the office, we’re spending more time sitting down in one place than we ever have before, with middle-aged office workers now spending more time sitting down than senior citizens do. It might be easy to assume that this increase in seated behavior is linked to increased focus—we’re working more, so we’re getting more done, right? But unfortunately, it seems that the opposite is true. In fact, it seems like the more time we spend sitting down, the less that we’re actually getting done.
Sitting might be one of the least productive things we can do at an office! Nearly 60% of surveyed employees admit to taking two to five breaks a day when bored and antsy from too much sitting, and another quarter takes more than six breaks a day. While breaks are important—and themselves one of the keys to productivity—there is a difference between intentional and mindful breaks and breaks that are taken out of sheer restlessness. When you take a break because your mind is wandering and you just can’t sit still, it can take more than 20 minutes to get back on task. How much time is wasted just from sitting down trying not to waste time?
Get Up To Get More Done
Standing up and taking breaks keeps you healthy, and it also makes you more productive. You get more done when you structure your time to allow for standing, stretching, and moving around. A study at the muse found that the most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a 17-minute break. You don’t have to use the same arbitrary numbers to learn the lesson here.
Set an alarm—work for a certain amount of time, and then break. Incorporating a sit-stand routine in your work-break flow will help you maintain your health while you build brainpower and maintain focus. Whatever your magic ratio is, most research suggests that 30 minutes to an hour is the ideal window of work time to aim for before a break.
How to help your office MOVE MORE:
If you’re looking for ways to move around in your office more, switching to a standing desk is a simple place to start. Height-adjustable desks that allow employees to switch between sitting and standing at regular intervals are a flexible way to encourage movement at work, that can be tailored to individual needs. Having a height-adjustable desk makes it easy to build standing into your regular workday, setting a sit-stand schedule with built-in breaks for stretching and breathing—or jumping jacks and crunches, if you’re feeling ambitious. The more you exercise at work, the healthier and more productive you’ll be, killing two birds with one stone.
There are so many other ways to move around at work. You can take the stairs instead of the elevator on your way in and out, and take the longer route to the farther bathroom or the water cooler. Try suggesting or holding walking meetings, bringing employees and coworkers out to the park for a stroll instead of sitting down around a table. It might seem strange now, but the amount of time we spend sitting these days is what’s truly odd, and your body will thank you for trying to realign with its natural tendencies towards movement. With the average person’s screen time climbing every year, this is quickly becoming a serious problem that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.
If you show your boss the growing mountain of research that indicates that movement increases focus and productivity, they will very likely encourage you to take more regular breaks, and might even want to invest in a standing desk for you. After all, a healthy employee is a productive one! Thanks to the Zen guys for their insights, hit them up on Twitter if you have any more questions.