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...and it's killing us

The mannequin challenge is the new fad that, like the ice bucket challenge before it, has taken off with coworkers, sports teams and friendship groups worldwide. Although most of these things are short lived affairs, office workers have been doing the mannequin challenge for far longer than anyone might think.

At least, they’ve been staying still, hunched over a computer for way too long. And although the mannequin challenge is a bit of playful fun, the effect of remaining sedentary in the office can be severely detrimental to our health.

It is time workplaces get moving and do something to reverse the terrible effects of staying still. Sitting for durations of more than 8 hours a day have been linked to several health issues. By educating employees on exercises we can do in and out of the workplace, we can make sure office workers have every chance to stay healthy.

Working in an office is worse for your health than smoking

According to the American College of Cardiology, having any kind of job that requires you to sit down for extended periods of time can increase your risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Many commentators having gone even further and claimed that sitting is the new smoking.

Unfortunately for those of us that use standing desks instead, others claim that standing isn’t much better. Sit-to-stand desks are effective in increasing the number of breaks in sitting, and reducing office workers total daily sitting time. However, the impact of standing desks is limited as we’re still remaining sedentary for long periods of time.

As a nation we’re simply not moving enough. In fact, on average people walk 60 miles less each year than they did 20 or 30 years ago. Fortunately, the answer isn’t complex. We just need to be more active. That means getting fit outside the office, and even exercising in it.

Exercising at the office

Fortunately, many businesses are waking up the importance of exercise. Tech-giant Apple allow employees to take 30 minutes each day to meditate at work, providing classes on meditation and yoga on-site. They’ve even launched healthy living apps such as ‘HealthKit’.

You don’t have to work for a huge business like Apple to install innovative ways to get healthier and more active at the office. You could hold standing, or even walking, internal meetings, stand up to take calls or hold lunchtime workout sessions. If you’re office just isn’t that enlightened, there are more subtle exercises and ways to stay healthy at work.

Serviced office providers i2 Office offer ‘deskercise’ tips to office workers. Deskercises are simple techniques you can do whilst sat at your desk, good news for the 51% of British workers who do not get up from their desk at all during a working day. The Washington Post also lists 12 exercises that office workers can do a week. Although doing some of these exercises in front of your co-workers might be slightly embarrassing, the benefits of doing so can be life changing.

Failing that, making sure you take breaks away from the desk, even if it's to go and make a cup of tea, will help.

Exercising outside work

If we know that sitting down at the office is bad for you, instead of embracing standing desks or co-worker workouts, why don’t we just ditch the office all together? Research suggests flexible working is good for your health and self-scheduling working hours has been found to have positive impacts on blood pressure, sleep and mental health.

Although some businesses are embracing flexible working, it may well be the case that this just isn’t possible at your workplace. Fortunately there are steps you, as an individual, can take.

You should not underestimate the importance of lunchtime walks. 55% of us walk for less than 20 minutes per day. To tackle this, Westfield Health have launched Walking Lunch Day aimed to encourage office workers to walk 20 minutes each lunch time.

The truth is we all know that sitting down at a desk all day is bad for us, but it can be a difficult habit to break. The world we live in makes it really easy for us to be inactive, and this directly and negatively impacts on our lives. Put simply, we need to move more. Perhaps it’s about time we ditch the mannequin challenge for a lunchtime walk or the deskercise routine.


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Office workers have been doing the mannequin challenge for years
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