NOSHA News February 2015

Employee Wellness

It is part of NOSHA's mission to provide our members with education on workplace safety and health. Employee health has been proven to have a direct effect on employee safety. At this month's General Membership meeting, Heidi Panos from the Sanny & Jerry Ryan Center for Prevention & Genetics will be joining us to talk about Employee Wellness Programs. Heidi is a physical therapist and is also the supervisor at the Center. Through her role, she is involved in many aspects of health and wellness, including Altru's Weight Management Program, biometric testing, and much more.

In keeping with the theme of employee health and wellness, this month we are featuring an article courtesy of Creative Wellness Solutions entitled "Sit Less, Stand Up, Move More!"


You may have seen some of those alarming headlines, namely that 'sitting is the new smoking'. Can inactivity really be as dangerous for your health as puffing regularly on something that is proven to increase your risk of getting cancer or heart disease?

As employers and managers of our own health, it is important to get a handle on some facts so that we can all make informed choices in our everyday lives.

While the research on the effects of sitting too much is not as advanced as that on smoking, there is a growing body of knowledge that links sitting for long periods of time, not only to problems associated with posture, but also to a number of serious health concerns, such as elevated risk of heart disease, obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and cancer.

The Research

A recent study cited by the Mayo Clinic found that adults who spent more than 4 hours a day in front of the TV or other recreational screen-based devices had an increased risk, over 120%, of events associated with cardiovascular disease such as chest pain or angina, compared to those adults who watched less than 2 hours a day. They also had a 50% greater risk of death from any cause.

What the research has crucially found is that the ills of prolonged sitting are not significantly reduced by periods of exercising before or after work. So we can't 'bank' hours of exercise to make up for hours of inactivity! When we are inactive for prolonged periods, what appears to be happening is that our bodies' natural ability to breakdown fats and sugars slows down and, as a consequence, our health risks rise.

Moving more is vital for keeping us fit and healthy at any age, particularly as we get older. The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines and the American College of Sports Medicine both recommend that adults target 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity each week. An example of moderate intensity activity would be brisk walking. However, recent studies into activity levels found that only 15-20% of all North American adults achieved the recommended guidelines. This means that 8 out of 10 of us are not active enough! Just as concerning, the study also found that adults spend almost 10 hours each day being sedentary (excluding sleep).

Why It Matters

Employers are paying a high price for chronic disease through increased health benefit costs, absenteeism, presenteeism and productivity losses. Research has clearly shown that many of these chronic diseases are preventable through improved diet, exercise and a healthier lifestyle. Investment in the health of your employees makes good business sense.

What To Do

The solution is not to take this lying down and to find different ways to build more activity into the working day. Be creative! Encourage executives, managers and employees to come up with ideas on how to build more physical activity into the working day. Standing or treadmill desks may be feasible in some workplaces or available in one room that employees can use for an hour or two per day. Walking meetings; inside or outside, can be another option. For every hour of sitting, encourage employees to take a 2-3 minute break from their desk to walk around, stretch and participate in active micro-break exercises.

Two key messages:

  • More activity is better than none! Just 10 minutes a day delivers results!

  • An active workforce has more energy, is more productive and has a financial benefit!

Article courtesy of

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