Is sitting costing your business money? And, is it time to un-sit your business and preserve the bottom line?
On the one hand, sitting is the cost of doing business. In the workplace of the 1980s, office workers spent 70% of their time sitting. Today it’s 93%. On the other hand, there are real expenses related to the cost of employees sitting all day at work.
Increasing health care cost
Sitting on the job is related to weight gain, diabetes and cancer, as well as musculoskeletal discomfort, pain and problems. Health care costs linked to on-the-job sitting may not be immediately evident but over time, as the work force ages, costs increase.
- A significant portion of the increase in body weight by men and women in the US is attributed to sedentary jobs. A sedentary jobs means fewer calories are expended in the workplace, 100 fewer calories a day according to one study. The accumulated effects over the years closely match the weight gain for 40-50 year old men and women. Obesity is related to diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
- Jobs with the most sitting double the risk for diabetes (112%), double the risk for heart attack or stroke (147%) and increases risk of death linked to cardiac disease (90%).
Prolonged periods of sitting are linked to 21% of breast cancers, 54% of lung cancers and 66% of uterine cancers. Sitting time is associated with 30% of colon cancers. Sitting on the job for 10 or more years doubles the risk of colon cancer and increases the risk of rectal cancer by 44%. It is implicated in increased risk of endometrial, ovarian, prostate, kidney, pancreas, and lower esophagus cancers.
- The typical office worker has more musculoskeletal problems than any other industry-sector worker, including construction, metal industry and transport workers. Addressing musculoskeletal problems is the number two medical expense for General Electric. Years of sitting impairs mobility and creates potential for injury while moving through the day and participating in sports, exercise or other activities. Later in life prolonged sitting creates potential for falls and lack of mobility.
Lessening the efforts of your company’s wellness program
Wellness programs encourage preventive efforts by employees. Yet the employees’ seated jobs and failure to address the impact counteract these efforts. For example, some wellness programs track abnormal metabolic biomarkers (blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose and waist size). As sitting time increases so too does the risk for abnormal biomarkers. Abnormal biomarkers are lined to lifestyle conditions such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and cardio-vascular disease.
Lost productivity and impaired cognition
- Sitting hour after hour is linked by research to reduced productivity.
- Moving=manufacture and transportation of food to the brain. Brain food (glucose) is created as postural muscles are used to stand and walk. Transportation of glucose through the blood stream is encouraged as postural muscles are used to stand and walk. Lack of movement interrupts the flow of food to the brain impairing cognitive abilities. A lifetime of sitting accelerates cognitive decline natural to aging as well as contributes to dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Musculoskeletal problems are linked to absenteeism, lost productivity and health care costs. In the UK more working days were lost to musculoskeletal concerns such as back and neck pain than any other cause.
Un-sitting your business can rescue your bottom line from employee health-related expenses, absenteeism, and lost productivity. In addition un-sitting can bolster the proactive efforts of company wellness programs.