Sitting is a slow but sure killer: four facts about sitting and break exercises

1. Sitting is harmful to health

Adults spend more than three-quarters of their waking hours, lying down or standing still. Taking their cue from adults, today’s children and adolescents imitate the passive lifestyle of grownups. Sitting causes musculoskeletal, cardiac and circulatory problems. It also leads to overweight, decreases sleep quality and slows down metabolism.

According to the national guidelines of the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, attempts should be made to reduce the amount of sitting at work, at school and during free time. The Finnish Spinal Health Association recommends changing your position every 30 minutes and taking regular breaks for exercise. This will boost circulation and metabolism, redistribute the load to the muscles in the body, and keep the musculoskeletal system supple.

Studies show that exercise during leisure time is not enough to counter the harmful effects of sitting, which is why the body should be kept active during the working day by changing positions and regular break exercise.

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2. Sitting reduces work efficiency and lowers productivity

According to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, a sedentary lifestyle is one of the major threats to health in Finland. It reduces productivity, lowers competitiveness and increases health and wellbeing disparity and the risk of marginalization. According to a Government Report on the future, different administrative sectors and organizations should enable people to have a physically active lifestyle.

The aim is to create novel solutions for the home, school and workplace to help reduce the amount of time spent sitting and sedentary. Cuckoo Workout aims at being this kind of solution: a portable virtual break exercise service with exercises designed by professionals for those who spend a lot of time sitting at work. The app uses a game-like approach that encourages users to take breaks. Read more about how the service works here.

Regular breaks at work are also important for mental wellbeing. A short break from work gives energy and reduces the stress that can cause pounding headaches. The Cuckoo Workout break exercise app also provides mental exercises for those who yearn for mindfulness. Research shows that exercises aiming at conscious presence have an impact on employees’ performance and work satisfaction.

Research shows that exercises aiming at conscious presence have an impact on employees’ performance and work satisfaction.

3. Just a few minutes’ break for exercise helps

A lot of organizations have come to realize the harmful effects of sitting and the benefits of good ergonomic solutions. It has been found that exercise breaks and workplace design solutions that encourage physical activity have significant effects on work productivity and on employees’ energy levels and concentration. There are also fewer absences due to sickness.

Changing your working position every 30 minutes, and taking regular breaks for exercise that target the right muscles and vertebrae, helps keep your body fit and supple by relieving the strain on your upper body from sitting in balance for long periods. When you are seated, there is hardly any activity in the thigh muscles. Activating the leg muscles is therefore essential. Studies show that breaks as short as two minutes help improve blood circulation.

The fact that the harmful effects of sitting have been recognized and changes have been introduced is already evident in pension statistics. People take better care of their backs than before; as a result, the number of disability pensions due to back disorders has fallen by half in 20 years.

4. Joint break exercise sessions increase a sense of connectedness

Research shows that exercising together motivates individuals and increases the pleasure given by physical activity. Joint exercise sessions in the workplace increase connectedness. Consequently, it pays to focus measures for increasing activity levels – not only for individual employees, but for the work community and work environment as a whole.

According to customer experiences compiled by Cuckoo Workout, joint break exercise sessions have increase interaction between teams at companies, create a new kind of work culture, improve the atmosphere at work and make the workplace more cheerful. Employees are also more committed to their work and to their employer.

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