Safety and OSHA News

Get office workers out of their chairs — it’s healthier for them

If couch potatoes are people who sit too long in front of their TVs, are modern office workers desk potatoes?

An Australian study reported in Circulation magazine shows a strong link between heart disease and the amount of time spent sitting watching TV. Study participants who watched more than four hours per day had an 80% greater risk of death from heart disease.

So if sitting in front of your TV for four hours a day isn’t healthy, what about sitting at an office desk for eight?

Some workplaces have addressed this issue. Among the ways they’re getting office workers to move around more:

  • Instituting “no phone, no e-mail” periods. For ten minutes each hour, no one can communicate via phone or e-mail. It forces workers to get out of their chairs and walk if they need to talk to a colleague.
  • Creating decentralized office space. Workers have a “home” desk, but they’re allowed to work wherever they want in the office.
  • Taking away individual trash cans. Workers are forced to get up to throw away trash in central locations.
  • Scheduling daily stretches. Employees have to stand up and participate in a five-minute stretching period.

The Australian study also caught the attention of the folks at TrekDesk. The company manufactures office work stations in which employees stand. Treadmills can even be put underneath so that an employee can walk and work at the same time.

“Within one generation we have engineered movement completely out of the workplace,” said TrekDesk CEO Steve Bordley in a press release.

Do you think your company would take any of the above steps to help office workers be less sedentary? Let us know in the Comments Box below.

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  1. I think getting rid of personal waste baskets sounds like the cheapest and easiest way to go. It’s probably the easiest idea to sell to managment as well.

  2. In our company we instituted daily stretching many years ago – and it works, our injury rates have been steadily declining. Getting rid of the personal trash containers sounds like a perfect start, but it must be done carefully and fully across the board, otherwise entitlement may become a negative motivator.

    Good stuff, keep it coming! Thank you.

  3. I don’t think taking away personal trash cans would work. People would just find an alternative container to use and just make one trip to the central location when it was full.
    I like the treadmill desks where you can walk while working, but I know they’re too expensive to get them for everyone.
    Encourage people to drink lots of water; they’ll get more exercise making six trips to the restroom instead of the usual one or two.

  4. Our company has taken away personal printers – and made network printers. That way if you print something you have to walk to the copy room to get your print out. Makes you get out of your chairs!


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