Sedentary behaviour (sitting too much) is a growing global health problem affecting developed countries around the world. The World Health Organisation recently identified physical inactivity as the fourth leading risk factor for global deaths and cited sedentary behaviour at work as a major driver of the change.

As a nation, we now spend more time sitting than ever before with office workers spending 75% of their waking hours sat down. This is largely due to an email heavy, computer-centric working culture and the evidence is clear, sitting too much contributes to a prevalence of major diseases and significantly increases mortality rates. Those who sit for prolonged periods of time are more than twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease than those with a more active lifestyle.

 

Tackling sedentary working

Government targets suggest we should all take at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. But with so many of us spending a large proportion of our day sat down in the office is this really achievable without first making our workplaces more active?

StepJockey, a Department of Health funded tech start up and a member of ukactive’s ActiveLab is on a mission to change everyday habits in the workplace. Their award winning behaviour change programme allows offices to become more active and productive by seamlessly nudging staff to take the stairs and ditch the lift.

The benefits of stair climbing are extensive; from positively impacting our heart health to strengthening our body and mind. A study compiled by Harvard Alumni found that men who climbed an average of eight or more flights of stairs a day had a 33% lower mortality rate than men who were sedentary.

StepJockey achieves behaviour change by equipping buildings with a network of highly visible smart signs. The signs can be read by StepJockey’s mobile app, allowing stair use to be tracked, sedentary time to be logged and greater activity incentivised.

Organisations can further promote activity in their buildings by launching team based stair climbing challenges and directly rewarding staff who habitually use the stairs. The fun StepJockey challenges range from climbing Mount Everest to circumnavigating the globe in their Around the World Challenge.

The StepJockey system is now used in over 12,000 buildings around the world by clients including Disney, Pearson, JLL, UBS, Channel 4, NBC and The Wellcome Trust. Paul Nuki, StepJockey CEO commented “by tackling inactivity in the workplace head on, we can make significant inroads into the sedentary problem. Stair climbing is an activity that’s achievable for most people, and it’s easy to build into your everyday routine, thus avoiding the usual blocker of time”.

The benefits of improving workplace health don’t stop there, research also shows that physical activity programmes increase staff productivity and reduce absenteeism. With a recent report by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence showing that active workers take 27% fewer sick days per year.

It’s time for businesses to step up to the sedentary workplace problem and tackle the causes of inactivity at work. Using simple, cost-effective nudges we have the power to encourage staff to take the stairs, ditch the lift and build activity into their everyday routine.

Want to get staff more active in your office? Find out more about StepJockey and their stair climbing challenges.

 

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