3.20.18 – Move More to be More Productive at Work
Human beings were not designed for a sedentary lifestyle. Our bodies are the product of evolution and for the vast majority of the billion-plus years life forms have been subject to evolution it’s safe to say they haven’t spent an average of seven hours a day sitting behind a desk in an office or a classroom.
Work and learning in comfortable environments are, of course, a blessing of the modern world, but it should come as no surprise to learn that if we use our bodies in ways counter to their design we are, at worst, going to cause problems for them (back injuries and RSI are notoriously common in offices), while, at best, we will fail to utilize their full potential.
Multiple studies have concluded that health and productivity are connected: the healthier the employee, the more productive they are.
The importance of living “a healthy lifestyle” has, along with equally vague slabs of piecemeal advice like “eating a healthy and balanced diet,” long been a staple of health pamphlets, but the studies demonstrate a clear productivity advantage for individuals who take care of themselves and have a good level of physical fitness. Next time you’re suffering in the gym or struggling to work up the motivation for a run remember this: it’s not just your body that will benefit from the exercise but your mind. Pushing yourself to work out regularly or even to walk and stretch on a daily basis, helps to maintain balance in the body and sharpness in the mind.
Blood flow in the human body is stimulated by movement. It is well known that “sitting motionless reduces blood flow to the legs, increasing the risk for atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaques in the arteries,” (New York Times). However, lack of movement also restricts blood flow to the brain, and if the brain is unable to access optimum levels of blood (and the precious oxygen it supplies) it cannot reach peak levels of creativity and productivity.
Research suggests that even moving for five minutes an hour can significantly increase levels of productivity and feelings of wellbeing.
A large study involving the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute set out to test this thesis. The study found that subjects who got up for regular, five-minute movement breaks “reported greater happiness, less fatigue and considerably less craving for food” than when they sat for continuous periods.
The positive correlation between movement and productivity clearly needs greater publicity. As someone with an interest in health and fitness, perhaps you could help introduce some of the initiatives to your workplace.
If your manager doesn’t look impressed when you suggest a five-minute break every hour refer him to the research. Perhaps your arguments will even be persuasive enough to encourage the creation of a small staff gym, for lunchtime workouts, or the introduction of showers to encourage employees to run or cycle to work.
A wealth of research indicates that living a healthy lifestyle, with regular movement at its core, benefits the brain as well as the body. Those who take to their feet regularly and keep themselves in shape will be more productive and more likely to reach their potential than those who give in to the ease and comforts of the modern world.
The Flashfit app can easily integrate with and improve your existing employee wellness program. With hundreds of fast and fun one-minute exercises that don’t require any special equipment, your employees can get moving right in your office. And Flashfit will track and measure all employee all activity, so your organization can reach your wellness goals and work healthy. https://www.flash.fit
Sources: University of Colorado, Brain Matters, Steelcase, New York Times