How important is physical activity for employees?
Being physically active is one of the most important actions that people can take to maintain or improve their health. And some of the health benefits gained from physical activity start immediately after being active, even when that activity is short. According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition each week adults need at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) of vigorous physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous intensity activity for substantial health benefits. The Physical Activity Guidelines say adults also need muscle-strengthening activity of moderate intensity or higher, such as lifting weights or doing push-ups, at least 2 days each week. The Physical Activity Guidelines also encourage everyone to “Move more and sit less” by reducing sedentary time and being physically active throughout the day.
How much and what type of physical activity will meet the Physical Activity Guidelines?
Since the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans report, there is more evidence documenting the health gains for individuals who increase their activity level even if they do not reach the recommended levels. According to the Physical Activity Guidelines, bouts, or episodes, of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity of any duration may be included in the daily accumulated total volume of physical activity. A single episode of physical activity such as walking to your worksite from the parking lot; up or down the stairs;
or one of the many physical activity breaks in this guide may be of sufficient intensity (i.e., moderate to vigorous) that it can reduce anxiety and blood pressure and improve quality of sleep and insulin sensitivity.
Even a brief episode of physical activity, if it is at least moderate intensity, like walking up several flights of stairs, counts. Some of the activity resources in the guide will help staff meet the aerobic guideline of 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity each week (or its equivalent). Other, lighter activities while not meeting the aerobic guideline What are the challenges to getting physical activity at work? Getting physical activity in one’s daily routine can be a challenge in busy workplaces across the nation. Lack of self-confidence or skill, cost, fear of injury, deadlines and other time constraints are common barriers. Further complicating matters, is that many occupations or jobs are sedentary in nature. Data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) indicate that Americans spend approximately 7.7 hours per day (55% of their monitored waking time) being sedentary. 2
Sedentary behavior increases the risk of death from all causes.
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