With one in four working Victorians – more than 700,000 people – having participated in a free and confidential WorkHealth check, the WorkHealth program now has what is considered to be one of the largest datasets in the world. And one of the key findings from the health profile of Victorian workers is that 63 per cent of those in the tourism sector do not perform enough physical activity.
‘Presenteeism’ is the term used to describe the lost productivity from workers who are performing at sub-optimal levels because of poor health and illness. It’s a serious issue for business with Medibank estimating a cost to the Australian economy of $34.1 billion in 2009-10. A recent report by Exercise and Sports Science Australia has shown that physical activity is effective as a proven treatment for three out of four major determinates of presenteeism. This means that employers who support physical activity within the workplace can potentially improve productivity within their business.
New research from VicHealth shows that prolonged sitting on the job is just as bad for your health as no formal exercise routine. The question is: what can you do to promote more movement in each hour of every day?
Whilst the average tourism operator is on their feet a lot more than a desk worker, there are still tasks that require long periods of inactivity. Sitting for up to 12 hours a day can significantly contribute to the risk of developing a chronic disease and decreased work performance in the long run. Surprisingly, this is still a problem even if you exercise for 30 minutes a day.
Warren Faneco, Exercise Physiologist at Ballarat Community Health, says regular movement is the key, not just a few bouts of formal exercise each week.
“Stretching during breaks is often talked about, and that’s important, but really it’s about developing good habits where you are moving all day long,” he says.
Here are some of Warren’s top tips to keep you moving:
- Stand whenever possible. The goal is to try and achieve a minimum of five minutes of movement each hour.
- During your break, do something opposite to what you do while you’re working. It’s easy to get into the habit of sitting down for your entire break.
- While sitting on the job, keep moving. Just like you do on an aeroplane to avoid deep vein thrombosis, move your ankles around in circles, lift your arms above your head and gently move your neck in a circle motion.
- Put a reminder at your work station to keep moving, to help you develop new habits. It takes close to a month to develop a new habit, so keep it up and it will become second nature.
- Whether during your work breaks or in your personal time, compile at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days
- Be sure to take every opportunity for incidental activity, like taking the stairs where possible.
To find out more about WorkHealth services and resources, please contact John Wigg, VECCI WorkHealth Project Manager, by phoning 03 8662 5132 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.