National Workplace Wellbeing Day: Staying Active at Work

By Maeve O'Keeffe Heart News   |   28th Apr 2023

Top tips to move more for National Workplace Wellbeing Day.

Last Friday, the 28th of April was National Workplace Wellbeing Day.  

Keeping well at work can mean lots of different things to different people. For some, it may mean taking time to try to manage stress or eat well while at work; for others, it might mean promoting health and safety, or looking after your financial wellbeing.  

However, one of the most important aspects of workplace wellbeing is physical activity. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), insufficient physical activity is the 4th leading cause of death worldwide, with an estimated 3.2 million deaths every year attributable to physical inactivity.  

Sedentary behaviour refers to any time spent sitting or lying down, while awake. This includes sitting at a desk, watching TV, or scrolling through your phone before bed.  

A recent study carried out by the Irish Heart Foundation found that the average amount of time spent sitting down for Irish people was 7.3 hours on weekdays. 

Martin Ryan, Health Promotion Officer with the Irish Heart Foundation, said, “Sedentary behaviour in the workplace has become an ever-increasing concern and unfortunately this trend shows no signs of slowing down.” 

“ Spending long, uninterrupted periods of time sitting or lying down during working hours is harmful for heart health.”

Martin Rya, Health Promotion Officer with the Irish Heart Foundation

Martin cautioned that even if we are reaching the recommended levels of physical activity for adults (150 minutes of moderate – vigorous intensity exercise per week), “Spending long, uninterrupted periods of time sitting or lying down during working hours is harmful for heart health.” 

Making small, sustainable changes to stay physically active during your working week, can have a big impact . Take a look at Martin’s top tips below:

  1. Move regularly throughout the day. “It can be helpful to set reminders on your phone to move for 1 minute every hour,” according to Martin, who suggests stretching, walking around, or practicing some of the movements from the Irish Heart Foundation’s Escape Your Chair Challenge every hour. By scheduling meetings for 55 minutes instead of an hour, you can allow time for movement breaks like this. 
  2. Take a stroll in your local park or garden while on your coffee break. You might just find the fresh air energising!  
  3. Try to make your commute to work as active as possible. If it’s feasible, walk or cycle to work. Alternatively, try getting off public transport a stop or two early, or parking your car a little bit further away so you can build more steps into your day. If you work from home, make time to go for a walk or cycle in the morning to try replicate an active commute to work.  
  4. Schedule physical activity into your day, like a morning exercise class, or lunchtime walk.  
  5. Martin also suggests walking meetings with colleagues as a way to build physical activity into your working day. “There are loads of useful tools that can assist you with note-taking and record-keeping during a walking meeting.”  

“ It can be helpful to set reminders on your phone to move for 1 minute every hour,”

Martin Ryan, Health Promotion Officer with the Irish Heart Foundation

The Irish Heart Foundation website has lots of resources to support people in all aspects of their wellbeing. From our dietician-approved heart-healthy recipes, to the month-long Escape Your Chair Challenge and the Well@Home booklet, we have everything you need to start making small, sustainable changes to improve your wellbeing.  

We have also created a set of online resources to help employers support their staff to live a healthier working life.  No matter how big or small your workplace is, no matter what sector you work in, you can support better staff wellbeing with some simple changes. 

Learn how to support your staff with our free online tools and resources. 

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