“Employers should compensate sedentary work”

«For every hour you sit still, the risk factors for heart disease increase by 5 percent. However, new research shows that one training session a week, with high intensity, can offset this risk. »

This was written on the front page of the Norwegian newspaper “Adresseavisen” in December 2015.

Javaid Nauman is one of the researchers behind the research; he says to the newspaper if you sit more than seven hours per day, you increase the risk of certain lifestyle diseases by thirty-five percent. You can, however, zero out this risk with only one hour of exercise each week.

“Employers should compensate”

“Employers who offer sedentary work, offer health issues for the employee at the same time. Employers should compensate for this by offering training,” Knut Løkke says. He is CEO of Myworkout: A technology company commercializing research on exercise and health, in cooperation with NTNU, Innovation Norway and the Research Council of Norway.

“Our experience is that it only takes ten weeks to reach a level that compensates sedentary work. And the costs don’t need to be more than a few pounds per employee, per year. The savings for the company, and society, is far higher than these costs. In addition, experience show increased job satisfaction, cohesion and productivity”

CEO of Myworkout, Knut Løkke

It’s all about accessibility

The Health Report from 2014 showed that seven out of ten adults in Norway are too inactive. Deputy Director in the The Norwegian Directorate of Health, Jakob Linhave, has previously pointed out to Myworkout that this development that has taken place over a longer period of time:

«(…) The main reason is that we have built a society that more and more eliminates the need to use our bodies. (…)Today, machines or technology do all the work for us, which means it is increasingly up to each individual to keep their body physically fit. »

Løkke agrees with Linhave’s statement, but he believes employers can take on a far greater responsibility. In this way, they contribute to solve the inactivity problem in the community. However, they need to be smart about how they offer training to the employees.

«If you invite to a dance classes, the dancer are the first to show up. It’s the same with exercise; the ones who are already active are the first to join a training session. The employee also have to reach out and inspire the inactive people,» he says.

«We believe availability and motivation are the key factors. The employers have to offer effective training that works, and a convenient solution for the individual employee. Fruit is a good example of availability. If the employer places a bowl of fresh fruit in the office, more of the employees eat fruit. You will get the same effect with exercise. If you offer a training program that can be performed quickly and efficiently, no matter where you live, you avoid that training becomes a big part of an already hectic schedule. An example of motivation is if you provide a physical health test, followed up by a personalized training program. Agree on a new health test after about 10 weeks of training. In this way the person can see the effect of the training. This give an intrinsic motivation,» Løkke continues.


New training law

Although Norwegians exercise more now than a few years ago, they are still far from the modest recommendations of the Directorate of Health: 150 minutes of physical activity a week. If, however, everyone followed these recommendations, the community could spare 455 billion – annually!

Løkke says one should go far in fulfilling these recommendations.

«I think we should take drastic action to resolve the inactivity problems we see today. Employers are the ones with the closest contact to people, and they are the most influential. The Working Environment Act states that the employer should consider measures for physical activity. It should state that the employer must provide training to employees. Period,» Løkke says.

«Such an amendment would also be in line with the Government’s strategy to strengthen public health, according to the new Public Health Report,» he concludes.

The relationship between physical activity / fitness and selected health parameters:

Longevity Convincing
Coronary heart disease Convincing
Stroke Probable
Blood pressure Convincing
LDL cholesterol Probable
HDL cholesterol Convincing
Triglycerides Convincing
Overweight Convincing
Central obesity Convincing
Type 2 diabetes Convincing
Colon cancer Convincing
Breast cancer Convincing
Endometrial Cancer Convincing
Function Skill Convincing
Depression Convincing

Source: National Council of Physical Activity