In Defense of Energizers: Incorporate physical activity into your work, training
It’s no surprise that obesity and sedentary lifestyles are negative by-products of our plugged-in society, but did you know that working and learning at your computer for long periods of time can lead to an early demise? A large body of research links physical inactivity to higher rates of morbidity and mortality (McCrady & Levine, 2013). Compounding this finding are new developments that reveal sedentary behavior as a unique health risk independent of physical activity. Long periods of sedentary time (distinct from too little exercise) are associated with increased mortality, increased obesity, high blood pressure, elevated risk of type 2 diabetes and adverse metabolic profiles (Stamatakis, et al. 2013). Even dedicated gym rats are not immune from risk. One hour at the gym does not make up for 10-hours at the desk.
How do we combat the negative effects of long sedentary hours spent designing and delivering e-learning? When it comes to movement, there are few better experts than James Brown, who famously prescribed: “Get On Up.” Likewise, we need to find opportunities to insert movement into our workday. Here are strategies that forward-thinking organizations have adopted:
- Incorporate movement into the workday by encouraging employees to take walks during lunch periods and breaks. Some organizations are going so far as to provide employees with pedometers to track their activity.
- Interrupt work at regular times with short bouts of exercise. So instead of working intensely for four or more hours at a time, work for an hour and take a five or 10-minute activity break.
- Incorporate activity into tasks by investing in treadmill desks or Swiss balls instead of chairs.
Note that the first two interventions take employees away from their work, making some organizations fear that healthy bouts of exercise will result in lower productivity. The third practice, although somewhat extreme, works from the assumption that physical activity will not interrupt workflow.
Break, energize and move
As e-learning designers and trainers, we can become more sensitive to the need for regular activity throughout the day by bringing energizers, or mini activity breaks, back to our training programs by building opportunities for brief movement into our delivery. We can also emphasize mobile delivery which gives participants the opportunity to move while they learn.
What do you think?
What strategies do you use to combat a sedentary work life and build regular movement into your workday? How can we build activity our training programs, particularly e-learning programs?
ReferencesMcCrady, S., & Levine, J. (2009). Sedentariness at work: how much do we really sit? Obesity, 17(11), 2103-2105. Stamatakis, E., Chau, J. Y., Pedisic, Z., Bauman, A., Macniven, R., Coombs, N., & Hamer, M. (2013). Are sitting occupations associated with increased all-cause, cancer, and cardiovascular disease mortality risk? A pooled analysis of seven British population cohorts. Plos ONE, 8(9).