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June 2017 Newsletter
In This Issue
  • Thanks for Joining Us!
  • The Economic Impact of Changing Sedentary Behaviour
  • Taking the Work Out of Working Out at the Office
  • Quick Reference: Are You An Active Couch Potato?
  • Quick Reference: Sitting @ Work: A New Perspective for Employee Wellness
  • Video: Total Body Standing Exercises You Can Do In The Office by Caroline Jordan
  • Quick Reference: Clarify Your Expectations
  • Coach's Corner: Incorporating More Movement Into Your Day
June 2017
Volume 4, Number 6

Thanks for Joining Us!

June is here and summer is officially on the way. Hopefully everyone is spending more time outside!

With the approach of summer it's a good time to consider the impact of a growing sedentary workforce. Only fifteen percent of Canadian adults meet Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a week. Combine this with the fact that over half of Canadians spend at least one-third of their waking hours working; a recent Statistics Canada report suggests it is closer to 50%.

Now consider that they spend spend an astonishing 10 hours each day of their waking hours in a sedentary state.

All of these statistics and numbers unequivocally support workplaces as an important setting for physical activity and sedentary behaviour interventions. In this edition of our newsletter we offer additional information to assist your organization in encouraging less sedentary employees.

Keep reading for more learning.

The Economic Impact of Changing Sedentary Behaviour

A recent Conference Board of Canada report reveals statistical results that every organizational leader should be aware of, Moving Ahead: The Economic Impact of Reducing Physical Inactivity and Sedentary Behaviour incorporated an analytical model ranging from 2015 to 2040. 

Simply by getting 10 per cent of Canadians with sub-optimal levels of physical activity to move more and reduce their sedentary behaviour would produce significant results, including:

* a substantial reduction in the the incidence rates for major chronic conditions resulting in Canadians living longer and healthier lives.

* a cumulative $7.5 billion increase in the gross domestic product (GDP) by 2040.

* a cumulative $2.6 billion reduction in health care spending on hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

*  an increase in the total number of Canadians available and willing to work. For example, in 2020, there would be 4,100 more people in the labour force; by 2030, this number increased rapidly to 14,700; and by 2040, to over 22,000.

* a reduction in the total number of days of work missed (absenteeism) by nearly 90,000 by 2040; this also helps to boost productivity and expand the Canadian economy.

* a larger and more productive pool of labour, which in turn boosts productivity, increases GDP, and ultimately enhances living standards.

This analysis has shown that even small increases to national physical activity levels can lead to tangible economic and health benefits. The results also suggest that even a modest improvement can yield tangible benefits to individuals, employers, and government. 

The more people that achieve the recommended physical activity guidelines, the more positive the implications will be for the economy, government finances, and labour force productivity.

Source: Alberta Centre for Active Living's summary of Moving Ahead: The Economic Impact of Reducing Physical Inactivity and Sedentary Behaviour, The Conference Board of Canada
"If 10 percent of employees went from not walking at all to walking one to five hours per week, they would miss almost 90,000 fewer work days due to illness by 2040 and reduce the time employees spend on short- and long-term disability leaves."

Take the Work Out of Working Out at the Office

Helping people to move more and sit less involves a comprehensive approach – from promoting and supporting individual actions, to facilitating family and co-worker supports, to creating a supportive environment within the workplace. Here are a few ideas that workplaces can incorporate from simple activities to those that help shape the culture of the organizations:

• Provide education about physical activity and sedentary behaviour in a variety of formats including posters, brochures/pamphlets, sticky notes, emails, company website, webinars, Lunch ‘n Learn sessions (informative and interactive) or other creative communications.

• Introduce employees to different activities that can be done both during and outside of the work day. Invite an expert to provide an interactive demonstration to get them started. Some examples include yoga, walk-run programs, tai-chi, using workout band, chair exercises.

• Bring in an instructor and offer regular classes such as yoga, Pilates, dance, etc.

• Send email reminders (programs exist that do this) encouraging employees to stand up at least once every hour.

• Remind employees at every meeting that standing is an option. Plan times to stand during meetings.

• Provide standing desks for each employee or have a few in the office that people can use.

• Conduct walking or standing meetings.

• Promote a stair climbing challenge.

• Introduce “recess” during the work day.

• Offer fit breaks throughout the day at specific times.

• Provide employees with a pedometer or digital tracker (e.g. a FitBit). You can incorporate challenges, incentive programs, a “how to” program focusing on walking.

• Start a walking club. Have employees take turns leading the walks.

• Challenge employees to reach a minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity each week. Have people sign a pledge and support each other to meet their goal.

• Register your company in community charity fundraising activities that are physical activity focused (e.g. Terry Fox Run, etc.).

• Provide flexible work hours.

• Subsidize physical activity purchases such as fitness club memberships, running shoes, home fitness equipment (e.g. weights, weight bench, stability balls, Fitness DVDs).

• Designate the lunch hour as a “no meeting” time so that employees can schedule that time to be active without having to cancel it for a meeting.

• Provide bike racks so employees can ride to work or subsidize public transit.

• Put in showers and lockers. If this isn’t possible, designate a room that people can use as a change room and include supplies including spritz bottles, spray deodorant, powder, a mirror, an iron and board, etc.

Changing a Sedentary Workforce Requires
Knowledge and Know How
Contact Wendy Ellen Inc. for assistance today!

Quick Reference: Are You An Active Couch Potato?

The Active Couch Potato is the person who has high volumes of sedentary time, with a mid-day spike in physical activity. For example, this person’s average day might unfold as such: drives to work, sits at work ,engages in a half hour/hour walk or workout after lunch, returns to their desk to sit, drives home and continues to sit at home in the evening (Tremblay et al). 

Sedentary behavior refers to prolonged sitting, lying or reclining quietly, or engaging in any activity that requires little or no muscle movement.  When we look at how most of us spend our days as compared to past generations, it is apparent how a steady decrease in daily movement has happened

Do you recognize yourself or your employees? 

Quick Reference: Sitting @ Work: A New Perspective for Employee Wellness

Research shows that sitting at work accounts for one-half to one-third of sitting time. Sitting at a desk, in meetings and while commuting to and from work, all contribute to a vast majority of jobs being quite sedentary. Many techno- logical advances over recent decades have contributed to this rising trend.

Sitting for long periods of time increases the risk for:

• Premature death
• Diabetes
• Osteoporosis
• Heart disease
• High blood pressure
• Obesity
• Cancer
Employees have identified that when they sit for long periods of time they feel mentally and physically exhausted, sluggish, stressed, depressed, socially isolated and trapped. These feelings contribute to a loss of productivity, poor performance on the job and disengagement with day-to-day tasks.
It is important to encourage and support employees to get up and move for one to three minutes after 60 minutes of continuous sitting. This can be as simple as moving from a sitting to a standing position or from standing still to taking a few steps. Not only will there be health benefits, but also improvements in self-esteem and feelings of stress.


Total Body Standing Exercises You Can Do
In The Office 
by Caroline Jordan

Quick Reference: The Benefits of a Healthier Workforce and How To Promote Them

It is vitally important that Canadian employers also recognize that a healthy business needs a healthy workforce. Forty-nine per cent of employers cite stress, physical inactivity and unhealthy weight as important issues in their workplaces. Some of the benefits of increased physical activity to companies include:

• Decreased absenteeism, including short- and long-term disability leaves

• Increased productivity, job performance and creativity

• Reduced injuries on the job

• Decreased staff turnover

• Improved corporate reputation

• Favourable relationships between unions and management

• Enhanced employee satisfaction and loyalty

Here are five ways you can promote a healthier and less sedentary lifestyle in your organization:

1. Promote overall wellbeing by offering a mix of programs to assist with personal and family needs
2. Actively publicize programs 
3. Motivate with financial incentives in the form of bonuses, gift cards, reduced health insurance premiums and contributions to health care savings accounts
4. Do not pressure but rather encourage employees to voluntarily participate in wellness programs
5. Maintain confidentiality and keep employees’ health information private
About Wendy Ellen Inc.
Wendy Ellen Inc. specializes in providing human resource and benefits management skills to small to mid-sized companies on an as-needed basis. From recruitment, Human Resource policy development and legislative compliance, employee retention and engagement, individual advisor/coaching, succession planning to employee development and performance, Wendy Ellen Inc. will help you protect your most valuable resource, your people.
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