There is an abundance of research demonstrating that a sedentary lifestyle has a negative impact on our overall health. Prolonged periods of sitting increase the risk of developing type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, and even some cancers. However, less is known about how a sedentary lifestyle affects our psychological well being, cognition in particular. The negative consequences of sitting at a desk all day should be carefully considered, especially now, as many employees continue to work from home.
A 2018 study published in Frontiers in Public Health set out to inventory the potential effects of a sedentary work environment by conducting a systematic review of the available literature. The researchers found four separate studies that discovered a significant change in cognitive functioning linked to sedentary behavior.
The longest study included in the review, conducted over six months, found that replacing sedentary time with moderate-to-vigorous physical activity improved both memory and reaction time. However, substituting sedentary time with light physical activity did not produce the same results. These findings suggest that a robust and consistent exercise routine is essential to combat the negative effects of sitting at a desk. We must devote time to rigorous exercise in order to see dramatic results.
Nearly all of the studies included in the review also reported that regular exercise has positive psychological effects. People with an active lifestyle feel less tired, more motivated, and notice significant improvements in their mood.
Help your employees achieve an active lifestyle, whether at home or at the office.
The authors of the 2018 review suggested addressing the problem of sedentary employees by updating the office environment. They envisioned an office equipped with preventative measures such as standing desks, active workstations (treadmill desks, etc.), and even a broadcast signal that encourages employees to get up and move every twenty minutes. But they could not have anticipated the mass shift to remote work and hybrid workplaces, which present new and unique challenges.
The best way to help remote employees achieve an active lifestyle is by offering a flexible fitness benefit. For example, a fitness benefit that includes on-demand virtual workouts allows remote employees to fit exercise into their schedule wherever they are. Other employees may crave time away from their home office each day and choose to exercise at a nearby gym instead. Some employees want access to an audio workout that will keep them motivated on their next run. A fitness benefit that offers remote employees the freedom to exercise in their living room, at a gym close to home, or wherever the road takes them is the ultimate solution.
Give your employees a flexible fitness benefit with something for everyone.
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