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Saskatchewan businesses encourage staff to stand to ward off disease

REGINA – A new Canadian study suggests the average person spends more than half of their day being sedentary, and now some Saskatchewan businesses are working to keep staff on their feet at work.

Dr. David Alter, the senior scientist at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute led the study, and said even 30 minutes to an hour of exercise a day may not counteract the effects of hours logged behind a desk or sitting on the couch for the remainder of the day.

“What we found was that sitting time is linked to higher risk of death, higher risk of heart disease, higher risk of cancer, cancer-related deaths, heart disease-related deaths and diabetes,” he added.

Developing technology is helping people spend more time on their feet during a work day.

Mauro Montanini is the general manager of Avanti Office Products in Regina and said he’s seen a steady increase of local businesses invest in desks that convert from a seated position to a standing one.

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“That can lead to reduced absences, increased productivity, lower health costs. All those factors make it a business decision that it pays to invest in this technology,” he said.

Other Saskatchewan employers have embraced the benefits that come with encouraging their staff to stay active throughout their shift.

The president of Phoenix Group, Pam Klein, said the company implemented a ‘Wellness Room’ where staff can work out.

“It’s not a big financial contribution, it’s not a lot of time, but the output, and the moral and attitude is only good,” she explained.

The company also encourages breaks and brings in a yoga instructor for employees to do some exercise over the lunch hour, which employee Kaila MacDonald said helps when you’re staring at computer most of the day.

“It’s tough to sit for that long but when you’re encouraged to take a break it’s not that bad.”

It’s unclear the amount of activity needed to offset the negative health risks that come with all that sitting, but the study suggests the more time on your feet, the better.

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