Here at Use the Stairs, we tend to think that any staircase with our stickers is the coolest in the world. Travel + Leisure have different criteria, but they have compiled a great list of the World’s Coolest Staircases. These beauties surely will entice people to stop waiting for the elevator and just Use the Stairs.
In today’s uncertain economic market, many employers are no longer able to offer benefits such as large bonuses or merit increases, unlimited expense accounts, or all-expenses paid retreats and conferences. One benefit that employers seem more willing to invest in, however, is the wellness of their employees.
According to the latest MetLife Annual Employee Benefits Trends Study the number of corporate wellness programs, which encourage employees to work toward preventing the onset or aggravation of a health condition and to adopt a healthier lifestyle, have increased steadily over the past few years. About 75% of companies with 500 or more employees offer such programs. These wellness programs have proven to be beneficial both for the employer and employee.
Benefits of Physical Activity
Scientific research has shown that regular physical activity can lower the risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, and even some cancers. It can also lower blood pressure; help build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints; and promote emotional well-being.
Many jobs involve hours spent in an office chair in front of a computer, offering little time or opportunity for physical activity. Some people find ways to sneak physical activity into their work day by stepping away from the desk and taking quick walks or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Daily activity, in addition to good nutrition and sleep habits can have an enormous impact on the attitude, productivity and overall physical and psychological health of an employee. A wellness/fitness program should be designed to improve or maintain cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and body composition.
Types of Wellness Programs
Some employers are able to offer on-site gym facilities to employees, while others may offer subsidies such as paying a percentage of both a gym initiation fee and monthly fees for employees. Employers can also encourage a healthy lifestyle by supporting flexible work schedules and creating an environment that encourages physical activity such as providing showers, locker rooms, bike racks, a safe area for walking or running, and healthy vending machine choices.
Important equipment to have in an on-site facility would include treadmills, stair climbers, stationary cycles, rowing machines, dumbbells, elastic bands for stretching, and exercise steps or benches. In the absence of an on-site gym, an auditorium or classroom area may be utilized for fitness classes such as aerobic exercise, stretching, weight lifting, yoga, Pilates, and boot camps, or for lectures on physical exercise and general fitness. Employers may also provide employee health screenings, health education, nutrition, and intervention programs such as smoking cessation and weight loss, and sponsor employee fitness challenges, incentives, and competitions.
Recently, incentive wellness programs that encourage employees to participate in their own preventive health care have become popular among employers. Various incentives such as medical insurance plans with lower deductibles and financial bonuses are offered to those employees motivated to work with a health adviser, enroll in a healthy living program, and participate in nutritional and exercise challenges.
Benefits for the Employer
Many employers who are no longer able to offer other expensive benefits still want to do something helpful for their employees. Offering an employee wellness program can benefit the employer in the following ways:
- decreases absenteeism and increases productivity as fewer employees take sick days or time off for medical appointments, and have fewer illnesses and injuries
- increases the retention rate of employees as they become healthier and choose to take advantage of the program offered
- saves money previously utilized for insurance claims, pharmacy costs, and health insurance premiums
- decreases workers’ compensation costs
- promotes a higher level of morale resulting in reduced stress and happier, more engaged employees
Studies have shown that more than half of the total health and productivity-related expenses that employers acquire are related to indirect medical costs of their employees, including absenteeism; disability; workers’ compensation costs; turnover; family medical leave; and on-the-job productivity loss. The National Business Group on Health in Washington, D.C. reports that studies have shown that for every $1 a company invests in a corporate wellness program, $3 is saved through fewer sick days, increased worker productivity, and employee retention.
Benefits for the Employee
A 2007 survey by the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, found that 79% of its members felt that the current culture in America, including the daily pressures of family, work, and finances makes it difficult for people to exercise regularly and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Of these members, 89% stated that they would take advantage of an opportunity to improve their health in the workplace if their employer made such an offer. Employees can benefit from wellness programs in many ways such as:
- improvement in the management of chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, pulmonary illnesses due to smoking, stress, and sleep conditions
- the need for fewer sick days and medical appointments
- potentially lowering the cost of health insurance premiums
- a feeling of being appreciated and valued as an employee resulting in higher morale, camaraderie, and self-confidence
- enhanced creativity and concentration
- an increased awareness of healthy choices in diet, exercise, and lifestyle
Healthy living is everyone’s responsibility and a healthy employee is one who assumes direct accountability for their lifestyle choices. The employee who chooses good nutrition, regular physical activity, good sleep habits, and the management of stress will benefit themselves, co-workers, and their employer.
There is a fantastic upcoming event in New York City that focuses on using the stairs. Not only do you get to climb the stairs of 30 Rockafeller Center, but you can also help raise money for multiple sclerosis.
Climb to the Top is a unique stair climbing event that raises funds to help more than 10,000 New York City, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan and Westchester residents affected by multiple sclerosis – a disease of the central nervous system that has no known cause or cure.
If you’re anywhere near the New York area and want to register, make a donation or just find our more information, check out the event website.
It can sometimes be quite difficult getting exercise at the office when much of office life is pretty sedentary. Knowing a few simple office exercises can help you to stay in shape even while at the office. The best part about most of these exercises is that without a trained eye, most people will not even be aware that you’re doing any exercises.
Exercise for your legs and abs: For this exercise you will cross your feet and take them off of the floor. The next part is you will push them together only in opposite directions. For this exercise, you want to do this for as long as you can or until you get tired. (In alternative you can take the stairs).
Exercise for chest, upperback and arms: With this exercise you put one hand on top of the table and you push down on the table. Do this until you get tired, and after you’re tired switch hands and do it to the other hand.
Exercise for the upperback, chest and arms: For this exercise you take one hand and put it under the table while you take the other hand and put it above the table. The hand that is under the table will be pushing upwards while the hand that is above the table will be pushing downwards.
You do this until both of your hands get tired, and then you will switch hands putting the hand that was under the table above the table and likewise.
Exercise for the belly and the hips: For this exercise you want to sit on the edge of your chair, and raise one foot into the air with the other foot still on the ground.
The higher you raise your foot the more effective this exercise will be. Do this until after your foot gets tired, and after it becomes tired you will want to switch feet. Raising the foot that did not get the exercise. Do this until after that foot is tired, and you will be done with this exercise.
Exercise to challenge the whole body: For this exercise you will raise
both of your feet off the floor and put both of your hands onto the table pushing down. The goal as with all of the other exercises is to do this until you’re tired.
These are some very simple exercises that you can do in the office without drawing any attention to yourself.
This is a guest post by Enrico M. Fortie. He’s a nutrition coach and author. He writes about the Greek Mediterranean diet plan at Mediterraneanbook.com. If you want Enrico to express his discoveries on how to keep your cardiovascular system healthy with you, follow him on Twitter.
Common complaints from people with office jobs is that the constant sitting causes and/or exacerbates back pain and the constant glare of the computer and lights cause eye strain and neck pain. Sitting for long periods has a pronounced effect on the circulatory system and can cause major muscles like the hamstrings to become tight while other muscles like abdominal muscles become loose.
While most people understand the importance of maintaining proper posture when sitting in a chair, the reality is that many people tend to slouch during the long hours at work. Here are some yoga-inspired exercises to combat the negative effects of sitting too long. They are designed to help rejuvenate while exercising safely at work.
Standing Poses and Stretches
Standing poses reduce tension in the shoulders and lower back. Mountain pose is a wonderful way to maintain correct posture and open the chest. For those who stand all day, you may need to perform movements that take pressure off your legs and back. For example, Wall Rests alleviate discomfort in your lower back.
To do the Mountain pose, stand with your feet hip-width apart and weight distributed evenly on the ball and heel of each foot. Tuck your tailbone in, and keep your lower abdominal muscles firm. You should feel the stretch in the front of your thighs as your muscles lengthen. Draw your shoulders back and downward to widen your chest. Roll your shoulders back and breathe smoothly and deeply through the stretch.
To do a Wall Rest, stand with your back to a wall. Make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart and at least 12 inches from the baseboard. Press your back flat against the wall and slower lower yourself by bending your knees. Make sure your knees are aligned with your ankles. Maintain the Wall Rest posture as long as you are comfortable and remember to breathe deep for maximum benefit.
Seated Poses and Stretches
If your office cubicle does not offer the support necessary for Wall Rests, you can perform yoga movements from the comfort of your office chair. These movements are designed to provide the same level of relief accomplished by standing poses but are largely carried out from a seated position. The Modified Backbend helps open your chest, while the Forward Bend relieves tension in your back, shoulders and neck.
To do the Modified Backbend, sit in your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Extend your arms in front of you and slowly bring each arm around the back of the chair. Make sure your hands meet and fingers interlace. Inhale deeply, and push your chest toward the ceiling. This movement stretches the spine and opens your chest. As you exhale, gently tilt your shoulder blades backward over the top of the chair. Try to bring your hands closer to the floor with every breath cycle, and keep your arms straight.
The Modified Forward Bend works in conjunction with the Modified Backbend. Inhale and stretch your arms out in front of your body. As you exhale, slowly fold your body in half, and allow your arms to drop to your sides. Make sure your spine is fully elongated. Try to maintain the position for three breathing cycles. As you stretch the spine and compress the abdomen, try to breathe as naturally as possible.
The workplace is full of stressors. You body endures the physical stress of standing or sitting all day. Your mind battles the tedium of countless tasks. Yoga helps counteract the unnatural effects of office work. Try the Wall Rest, the Modified Backbend or any of these yoga poses to ease tension and soothe aching muscles. You can do office yoga throughout the work day at specified intervals or when the need arises. It is a great way to exercise at work and your body, mind and spirit will thank you for it.
“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.”
Diabetes is a very serious disease that is extremely difficult to manage and can lead to the development of other serious health issues. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that is usually diagnosed during childhood. Those with type 1 will require insulin until a cure is found. However, only 5% of people with diabetes have type 1; 95% have type 2. Type 2 diabetes is developed later in life and develops due to genetic and lifestyle factors. Once one is diagnosed with diabetes, their life becomes consumed with keeping blood sugar levels at a normal range, requiring finger prick blood sugar tests and possibly insulin injections. Many who develop type 2 diabetes feel that they will have to live with it for the rest of their life, which usually is not true. While genetic factors play a role, 80% of type 2 diabetes is preventable with simple lifestyle changes to promote weight loss. Small, yet simple changes you make to your lifestyle to be more active can help you lose weight and reduce, or even eliminate, insulin dependency. Many don’t know this, which is why it’s important to share the facts about this disease. Here is the truth behind diabetes:
On twitter last week, reneelaws tweeted:
What a great idea.
It shouldn’t only be for the restrooms, most larger offices have kitchens or water-coolers on different floors. Take a water break two floors up, grab some coffee downstairs or keep your lunch in the refrigerator 3 floors up.
Using the stairs will not only give you a nice break with exercise, but it will also expose you to a different part of the office and different co-workers. Perhaps it will also give you an opportunity to chat with colleagues who you only used to see on the elevator.
From the SW Washington Daily Insider:
The goal is to encourage residents to take the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator as way of promoting exercise in the community.
Mayors for the cities of Vancouver and Battle Ground both issued proclamations for Take the Stairs Day.
Local officials are often involved with encouraging physical activity for children within schools, however, it is fantastic to see a community wide proclamation that can benefit everyone.
Also cited in that article:
A recent study by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention found an increase in stair use when signage was displayed at the decision point between the stairs and an escalator or elevator.
More information about “Take the Stairs Day” can be found at Clark County Community Choices.
Is it possible that the traditional office worker has the most dangerous job in America?
From that question, the article discusses how studies show more physically active employees are also more productive employees. They even provide a list for keeping office workers in shape. This list has some very good advice but there is one glaring omission, one that is very near and dear to our hearts.
Using the stairs.
Whether it’s two floors or 10, using the stairs instead of the elevator on a daily basis can have a very positive effect on your health and work. Granted, you’re not going to become completely fit by using the stairs, but it’s a start.