Many of us will be familiar with the feeling that we could be more active during the weekdays, but working 9-6 often means that there’s a lot of time spent sitting, and not enough time spent standing or walking. Why do employers in Asia need to care about this?
- Research shows that 86% of Malaysia’s workforce lead largely sedentary lifestyles – that means, nine out of 10 Malaysian workers (86%) spend at least six hours a day sitting at their desk. At the same time, 86% of the workforce exercise less than three times a week.
- In Indonesia, hypertension accounts for 31.7% of total non-communicable diseases, followed by joint problems (30.3%); accident-related injuries (25.9%); stroke (8.3%); heart problems (7.2%); cancer and tumours (4.3%); asthma (3.5%); and diabetes mellitus (1.1%).
- Overall, the prevalence of physical inactivity is 80.4%, ranging from 74.8% in Myanmar to 90.7% in Cambodia and sedentary behaviour 33.0%, ranging from 10.5% in Cambodia and Myanmar to 42.7% in Malaysia.
Given this state of health, the latest survey findings, albeit UK-based, by Perkbox Medical should give us some food for thought.
The survey of 2,850 people, found that 45% of Brits feel that they aren’t able to reach their fitness goal of 10,000 steps a day because they are ‘not able to walk a lot at work’. A further 40% stated that they ‘don’t have enough time’, further highlighting the issue of work/life balance.
With 58% of Brits trying to reach the target of 10,000 steps a day and 71% (whether they are trying to hit this target or not) not reaching this amount of activity each day, it highlights that many UK workers are living a highly sedentary lifestyle.
A majority (73%) attempt to reach 10,000 steps a day to maintain mental health and reduce stress, while 64% wish to improve fitness.
To increase the number of steps in the workplace, Perkbox recommends the following:
- Education surrounding the mental health benefits of walking - If possible, make it clear to employees that if anyone is feeling under any pressure or stress, they are able to step away from the desk and take a short walk to clear their mind and reap the health benefits.
- Introduce step count competitions - Who doesn’t get a bit competitive at the sound of a challenge? Setting up a friendly competition, of who can reach 10,000 steps a day the most frequently over a certain period, with the winner receiving a small prize, helps to get everyone involved.
- Encourage walking lunches - Create a culture in the office that encourages everyone to leave their desks at lunch, even just for a short time - the office should seem revitalised come the afternoon.
- Introduce standing desks - Standing desks aim to reduce back pain and all the effects of a sedentary lifestyle. Having desks which can switch between sitting and standing give people the choice of both and should make it not feel like a chore to have to stand, but more of a treat.
- Talking in real life? Surely not -Walking over to talk to a colleague gives an opportunity to stretch legs and can often mean that ideas and thoughts are more quickly communicated - encourage an open communication culture and ensure that everyone in the office gets up to talk to others.