Workplace Wellness and Sedentary Behaviour: What is It and What Are We Doing to Address it?

What is Workplace Wellness?

Whether we hear about it in everyday social media, government policy meetings or corporate boardrooms, these words get used a lot to describe a fairly vague and ambiguous term which we link to solving our unhappiness, burn out and general fatigue.

Workplace Wellness has been a key topic of discussion for the last number of years, and yet arguably we have yet to have developed a global strategy/course of action to address it. Google’s definition for Workplace Wellness is as follows:

“Workplace wellness is any workplace health promotion activity or organizational policy designed to support healthy behavior in the workplace and to improve health outcomes.”

Now this is definitely accurate, however it is taking a very quantitative and rigid approach focussed on the ideas of policy implementation. To me however, workplace wellness is,

“A general description of physical health, mental health, productivity, collaboration and genuine satisfaction/fulfillment individuals experience while being a part of an organization.”

There are countless factors that impact a workplace’s wellness including, staff, industry, the economy, customers, hierarchy, exercise, nutrition, commuting, travel, disease, disability etc. So how is it that we as Athletic Therapists believe we can improve workplace wellness and ultimately benefit your workplace. 

Let me explain.

At Integrative Movement, we believe in and promote the benefits of all movement and activity. As Athletic Therapists we not only understand the importance of exercise and its application, but we also have an in depth understanding of human physiology, rehabilitation, injury assessment, biomechanics and ergonomics.

We use this mission and education to guide both our educational and movement based workplace wellness initiatives to improve knowledge, skills, and confidence while participating in movement. Educational sessions cover topics like sedentary behaviour, low back pain, plantar fasciitis, neck pain, concussions, flexibility and strength training. Movement based sessions are tailored to every workplace and every individual.

Overall, they outline specific strategies to overcoming sedentary behaviour and then further delve deep into how each of us can increase our movement, improve our movement, and overall promote health and wellness.

What is sedentary behaviour?

“Long term behavior characterized by very little physical activity and significant continuous time spent sitting.”

Personally, I have done numerous presentations on this topic in 2019 and I would just like to highlight some of the scary stats associated to long term sedentary behaviour as well as their specific association to healthcare right here in Manitoba.

  • Type 2 Diabetes – As most of us are well aware, Manitoba has one of the highest rates of Diabetes in Canada. More than 50% of people with pre-diabetes with develop diabetes their lifestyles do not change. More than 28% of the Manitoba population has either Diabetes or pre-diabetes and this number is consistently growing. Manitoba also has the highest concentration of aboriginal people, the lowest median family income, and an obesity rate much above the national average. All three of these factors significantly increase the potential Type II diabetes effecting Manitobans in the future. 

  • Cardiovascular Disease – Heart Disease is the leading cause of mortality in Manitobans. Risk factors for Cardiovascular disease includes obesity, sedentary behavior, Diabetes and high cholesterol. 

  • Obesity – Manitoba is also far above the national average in Obesity rates at ~24.5%. (Manitoba Children with Obesity ~13%). 

  • Colorectal Cancer – 3rd most common cancer in Manitoba and 2nd most common in Manitoban Males. 

  • Poor Mental Health Outcomes – Manitoban youth are twice as likely to suffer from mental illness compared to the national average. 

  • All-Cause Mortality- This may sound blunt but the stats show that the more time you spend sedentary continuously, the shorter your lifespan.

Another scary finding which occurred during my research was that all of these diseases were more strongly correlated to sedentary activity in females. This means that being a sedentary female has even greater potential risks for associated disease and other negative effects on overall health. Furthermore, there are a number of chronic diseases and conditions which are associated with physically active individuals (>150 minutes activity per week) who have sedentary occupations or lifestyles when not directly working out. This means that even if you work out for 1 hour everyday but you spend the other 23 hours of your day being relatively sedentary (i.e., work, driving, eating, watching TV, etc.) you are at a greater risk for negative health outcomes such as an increased waist circumference, hypertension, increased blood triglycerides, and pre-diabetes. 

How can I start making changes to improve my health? 

Logan’s Recommendations for Strategically Reducing Sedentary Behaviour

  • Fill up coffee cup half full so you have to get up twice as often.

  • Host a walking meeting.

  • After each email you send stand up 5 times or do 5 seated calf raises.

  • Stand up before you answer the phone or use speaker phone and walk around your office.

  • Use the stairs whenever possible.

  • Get off the bus one stop early or use other modes of transportation to work (bike, run, walk, rollerblade).

  • 50:10 Rule - Work intently for 50 minutes then stretch, walk, exercise, meditate, etc for 10 min. 

  • Park your car further away from your destination (i.e., one block or at back of parking lot – burn calories and save your car from dents and dings). 

  • Go for a walk at lunch or eat your lunch outside.

  • Do office stretches for five minutes every hour (Neck, Back, Shoulders). Similar to 50:10 Rule.

  • Activate your core and glutes while you are sitting in your chair.

  • Every time you go through a door do 5 push-ups, squats or arm circles. 

  • Every time you exit an elevator do 5 squats or 5 arm circles.

At Integrative Movement, we believe in and promote the benefits of all movement and activity. We are a combination of healthcare professionals focussed on treating musculoskeletal conditions with the use of manual therapy and most importantly Exercise. We used these principals and beliefs to build our workplace wellness initiative and apply it to our community organizations and businesses. 

Workplace Wellness is easy to talk about but difficult to produce! Contact Logan or Integrative Movement to learn how our approach to workplace wellness can help your organization kickstart this process and achieve meaningful, valuable results.

Logan is a recently Certified Athletic Therapist working at Integrative Movement in Winnipeg Manitoba. He is an Associate Athletic Therapist as well as the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Company which largely involves the active engagement in community organizations, businesses, senior centres, schools and sports teams. Continuing education is a key principal for Logan who is currently taking an online course from the University of Calgary about concussion management and prevention. Logan is also currently training to prepare for the Men’s National Volleyball Team tryouts in early May. Along with his passion for exercise and healthcare, Logan loves hunting, skiing, horses, hiking and country music.