It’s hard to miss headlines cautioning that sedentary lifestyles have been linked to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Some studies have even linked long periods of inactivity to a greater risk of early death. Though much of Team U-Haul is very active throughout the day, many team members have desk jobs. But, that hasn’t stopped them from finding creative ways to stay active. Several U-Haul companies across North America as well as U-Haul headquarters in Phoenix have seen the addition of standing desks, treadmill desks and various exercise equipment, which give team members the option to stay mobile during their workday.
Reasons to rise
You won’t find any studies touting the health benefits of a couch potato lifestyle; however, there have been countless studies that solidify the fact that leading an active lifestyle has numerous benefits. With this in mind, Doug Weston III, marketing company president (MCP) of U-Haul Company of Western North Carolina, has created a more active office environment for his team members.
To counteract long periods of sitting, Weston added a treadmill desk to one open area of his office building as well as several standing desks that team members can use to be more active. In addition to those improvements, there is also a treadmill and stationary bike in the conference room for team members to use.
“Lots of reports say that sitting for long periods of time causes many medical problems,” Weston noted. “As an organization, we’re giving our team members the option to live a healthier lifestyle.”
Studies have shown that people who stand throughout the day have lower BMI and waist circumferences, improved cholesterol levels and lower levels of triglycerides. One study found that standing may help defend against developing type 2 diabetes.
“Having options to stay active throughout the day takes away many excuses that might prevent living a healthy lifestyle,” Weston declared.
While there are many proven health benefits of breaking up sedentary periods with standing, walking and stretching, one study by Texas A&M University found that standing desks increased the productivity of call center workers. These workers had an increased success rate in calls over a six-month period, with a 23 percent increase in the first month.
With the help of his facility maintenance technicians (FMTs), MCP Anthony Jones III of U-Haul Company of Central Indiana added standing desks to his team’s offices.
“Everyone believed standing stations would make them more alert and mobile,” Jones recalled. “My FMTs constructed the stations from scratch. This way we got the best of both worlds. We received elevated workstations while saving on the cost of buying preassembled desks.”
Since adding standing desks, Jones has noticed a significant improvement at his office.
“This has changed the work environment drastically,” Jones advocated. “Team members are ready for action. When you’re sitting, your reaction time to certain things is generally slower. When standing at your desk, you are more alert and responsive.”
Uplifted and energized
In addition to a healthier lifestyle and increased productivity, Jones and Weston have noticed a positive response from their team members.
“Team members enjoy having the option to stand and be active throughout the day if they want,” Weston observed. “The exercise equipment is there for anyone to use. In fact, one of my general managers (GMs) enjoys using the bike during our monthly meetings.”
“Standing workstations create more energy, more engaged team members, better posture and core strength,” Jones agreed. “Everyone was very excited about this addition.”
This positive response from team members falls in line with one study conducted by the Take-a-Stand Project in Minneapolis. The study determined that reducing sitting time improved moods and reduced upper back and neck pain by 54 percent.
Don’t have a standing desk or exercise equipment? No problem! You can counteract the negative effects of sitting by aiming for a total of two standing hours during an eight-hour work day. To do this, follow the 20-8-2 rule recommended by the Mayo Clinic Obesity Solutions Institute. The rule advises that you sit for 20 minutes, stand for eight and walk or stretch for two.
How do you stay active at work? Let us know in the comments.