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How to encourage your people to sit less and move more



Moving more is good for business

Helping people move more can help a business’ bottom line.


Workplaces that encourage their people to sit less and move more can enjoy:

  • improved staff productivity

  • reduced numbers of musculoskeletal disorders and injuries

  • reduced absenteeism, as well as presenteeism (where staff turn up but aren't fit to work)

  • greater staff retention.

We know chronic diseases associated with sitting too much have well-documented negative economic impacts, and we know sitting less improves health outcomes.


We know healthier people make healthier workers, and healthier workers are generally more productive workers. That's good for a business' bottom line.


So encouraging your people to sit less and move more gives great bang for your buck as it’s one of the lowest cost ways to better health – after all, walking is free!


Australia's VicHealth has released several reports on workplace wellbeing. These reports are available for download at VicHealth's website and include a report into the effects of prolonged sitting at work, and how to reduce it.


Here are some ideas to encourage people to sit less and move more:

Sit less

  • Set up reminders via email or on-screen pop-ups to prompt staff to get up, stretch and/or take a microbreak, and walk to talk to co-workers instead of emailing.

  • Allow staff to have standing meetings and encourage them to do so.

  • At the beginning of meetings say standing up is encouraged, and make an agenda item asking people to stand and stretch, and/or build in activity breaks during meetings of more than one hour.

  • Give staff the flexibility to have walking meetings – particularly good for small, informal meetings.

  • Make regular communications to staff about the health benefits of sitting less. See the Sit Less Move More Guide's key messages for communication ideas.

Move more

  • Encourage active ways to get to work, and/or establish a walk or cycle to work day/month.

  • Give staff the flexibility to be active during the work day.

  • Help set up a running or walking group.

  • Choose physically active work functions – go to parks, bowling clubs, paint ball, rock climbing, organise amazing race challenges.

  • Encourage and/or sponsor work sports teams.

  • As an organisation, get behind local or national physical activity initiatives, such as walk or bike to work days, fun runs, pedometer challenges, walking or stair challenges, etc. (Branded team t-shirts are also a good way to advertise your business.)

Work spaces and facilities

There are many ways workplaces can use the work environment to encourage people to stand up and get more active.


Sit less

  • Move chairs out of meeting rooms or stack them at one end so sitting isn't the default option.

  • Make stairwells more attractive so staff are more likely to use them.

  • Display Sit less, move more resources in break rooms, working areas and by the stairs.

  • Consider installing a standing-height table in a meeting room or break room.

  • Support staff who would like alternatives to chairs, such as Swiss balls or standing desks.

  • Provide headsets that allow workers to move about during long phone calls.

  • Site water coolers away from work areas so people have to get up and walk to them.

  • Centralise rubbish or recycling bins so people have to walk to them.

  • Keep public transport travel cards at reception for staff to use – this will also save on taxi fares and promote physical activity.

  • Keep wet weather gear at reception so people can still walk or bike even when it’s raining.

Move more

  • Provide showers, changing areas and lockers at work so staff can walk/run/cycle to work and/or be physically active during the day.

  • Provide bike racks that are lockable, convenient and accessible.

  • Invest in bikes or scooters for people to ride to local meetings.

  • Got room (and budget) for a gym? Provide one on site.

  • Set up a basketball hoop or table tennis area to be used in break times.


Supporting individuals

These actions are about how your organisation can help your employees help themselves to sit less and move more.


Sit less

  • Promote the health benefits of sitting less by displaying Sit less, move more resources in break areas, and putting up posters where workers can see them.

  • Encourage staff to schedule stand-up breaks in their daily calendars.

  • Encourage people to keep a pair of comfortable shoes at work for standing or walking meetings.

  • Introduce staff to Deskercise, a humourous take on making the most of every opportunity to move at work.

Move more

  • Promote physically active ways to get to work, including using public transport. Develop an Active Travel Plan for your organisation (see the Greater Wellington Regional Council’s plan as an example).

  • Arrange for people to speak on health and activity-related topics or run workshops to educate and inspire people to get active.

  • Encourage and help your team organise a lunchtime walking group – help map out nearby walking and running routes.

  • Encourage people to take part in national/local and/or corporate events, such as Walk2Work Day or Go by Bike Day, Relay for Life, etc.

  • Consider offering discounts to gyms or other sporting activities.

  • Organise for someone to teach interested staff a new sport or physical activity – consider subsidising it or offering it free.

  • Download/order and distribute the Ministry of Health’s Healthy Eating, Active Living advice booklet for adults.


Who can support you to encourage your people to move more

There are many ways workplaces can take action to encourage people – especially those who sit down to work – to sit less and move more throughout their workday. Below are some organisations to help you help your people.


WorkWell is a free, workplace wellbeing initiative that supports workplaces to ‘work better through wellbeing’. Developed by Toi Te Ora – Public Health Service, WorkWell can be adapted to any workplace and is available in various regions across New Zealand.


The Workplace Health and Wellbeing team at the Auckland Regional Public Health Service are able to give technical advice and guidance on health and wellbeing in the workplace. The team can support workplaces with best practice advice, tools and free programmes in the Auckland region.


Move more-related programmes they offer include Heartbeat Challenge, Feetbeat, and Move Aotearoa.


Sport Taranaki offers four wellness package options for workplaces in Taranaki.


The Sport Northland Active Workplace Programme can work with your workplace to help inject more physical activity through an interactive 12-month plan.


The main areas of focus include anything from looking at a workplace's physical environment, initiatives to help modify staff behaviour, the workplace's policies and practices, and of course, the fun things that help improve staff morale and cohesiveness.



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