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Stand up for better health… and profits

By , February 21, 2013

This week, I came across an astonishing article that made me jump out of my chair – literally.

According to a study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition & Physical Activity, sitting down at work for long periods of time can actually increase a person’s risk of getting cancer.

Researchers at Kansas State University surveyed 63,048 males for the study. All participants provided detailed information about their daily office sitting time. “We saw a steady increase in risk of chronic diseases the more participants sat,” said researcher Richard Rosenkranz. “The group sitting for more than eight hours each day clearly had the highest risk.”

While this article was obviously written for doctors, it was unintentionally written for small business owners as well.

Think about it.

Your employees are the lifeblood of your business. A sick or unhealthy employee not only affects the company by missing too many days of work and inflating health insurance premiums – but also by dragging down productivity and slowing the daily workflow.

The Los Angeles Times recently reported that employers of all sizes are beginning to realize how office-based jobs can wreak havoc on the human body. That’s why many companies have created internal fitness programs encouraging employees to move more during the workday and incorporate exercise into the daily office routine.

At the coastal California offices of the outdoor apparel manufacturer Patagonia, the company allows employees to take running, biking or surfing breaks in the middle of the workday. Rally Software, a company based in Colorado, has employee-organized groups for rock climbing activities. The company also provides bikes for employees to ride on nearby trails during lunchtime.

Now if your company is based in the heart of Brooklyn, doesn’t own any surfboards, and has no time or place to arrange rock climbing activities, fear not – you can still adopt certain low-budget fitness measures. In fact, here are a few Ptex Practical Pointers that I plan on implementing within Ptex Group shortly. Feel free to copy them:

– Start holding walking meetings, where employees can discuss new projects while walking around the block, instead of just sitting at the conference table drinking coffee.

– Speaking of coffee, consider keeping complementary calorie-free Splenda packets in the coffee cabinet instead of plain, high-calorie sugar.

– The simplest trick of them all? Try positioning printers further away from desks to make everyone take a couple of extra steps and burn off more fat.

Naturally, these tips aren’t for everyone. If you have lots of extra money to spend, take a cue from pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline.

The company recently installed a bank of treadmill desks that allow employees to take turns walking while they work on a computer. As you can imagine, these treadmill desks are rather pricey. With a price tag of well over $4,000 each, it’s probably cheaper to hire a personal fitness coach for each employee.

And with the upcoming Purim holiday ushering in lots of cake, candy and tantalizingly rich foods, a personal fitness coach is something that my employees and I just might need.

Onwards and upwards,
Meny Hoffman

P.S. What fitness ideas can you think of to help keep your employees – and company profits – in better shape? Let me know by commenting below and I’ll share them in a future LTB article!

Meny Hoffman

Meny Hoffman is the Chief Executive Officer of Ptex Group, an Inc. 500/5000-ranked marketing and business services firm headquartered in Brooklyn, NY.

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