Are Health Costs Rising With A More Sedentary Workforce


With the advent of technology, is it now a contributing factor to rising health risks and costs to the employer?

A recent article posted from the Management Liability Insights Conference in Advisen FPN.  “A decision this summer by the American Medical Association to classify obesity as a disease, instead of a condition, has heightened concerns among employment law officials about such possible workforce outcomes.  The U.S. obesity rate jumped nearly 50% from 1997 to 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

Obesity is not alone in the health risks to the workforce.

A study comparing the shortest time spent sedentary, the longest time spent sedentary was associated with:

  • 112% increase in risk of diabetes
  • 147% increase in cardiovascular events
  • 90% increase in death due to cardiovascular events
  • 49% increase in death due to any cause

A sedentary job – sitting 8-10 hours behind a desk lends itself to higher risks in one’s health. At work, you may find vending machines offering high-fat and high-calorie snacks, and with little time for a lunch break, often resort to this type of food.  Also co-workers often bring in their own treats to nibble on.   Nibbling all day is another major contributor to an increase in belly fat at work.  Technological reliance on the internet, surfing, email, texting, service and desk jobs find individuals moving less and less during work hours.

“The missing piece of the puzzle is the lack of occupational activity that is probably contributing to our workforce inactivity and the creeping obesity we are seeing at this time,” says Barbara E. Ainsworth, exercise researcher at Arizona State University and President elect of the American College of Sports Medicine.

“If you sit all day at work, you may want to pay attention to recent research which demonstrates that prolonged sitting at work raises the risk of dying from cardiac and metabolic diseases, as well as the risk of dying from all causes, even if you work out or exercise.” Robert Glatter, MD

What you can do to avoid these health risks:

1. Use a sit/stand workstation where appropriate as a workstation.

2. Go for a walk on your lunch break as well as after work.

3. While at work, get up out of your chair, stretch, and do range of motion exercises.

4. Do jumping jacks; incorporate a balance ball, jump rope, and free weights for doing impromptu workouts.

5. Take the stairs vs. the elevator.

6. Begin an exercise program for cardiovascular as well as strength training to improve over all body function.  Outdoor activities such as hiking, riding a bike, roller skating and more add to this overall program plus it gets you outdoors breathing fresh air.  Stay consistent – a weekend warrior program does not cut it for health longevity.

7. Drink water – it keeps the body hydrated and flushed of toxins and gives you more energy. Avoid caffeinated and sugar drinks.

8. Pack your own lunch – one that is healthy with protein, vegetables and fruits. Avoid junk food, sweets and trans fats.

9. Deep breathe – increases oxygenation while improving memory, focus and concentration.

10. Add a plant and air purifier to enhance your brain function.

11. Beat your stress!  Moving increases endorphins that make us feel better and reduce feelings of depression.

12.  Add meditation, tai chi, yoga and other stress busting programs to your daily life. They help to relax the nervous system and reduce stress.






Kate Montgomery

ERGOhealthy Coach


ERGOhealthy BBB Business Review