Bosses should plan in two-minute exercise breaks to help home workers

  • Date

    Wed 15 Dec 21

portrait photo of Dr Dawn Holford

Bosses should plan in two-minute exercise breaks to help desk-bound homeworkers beat the ‘sitting epidemic’, University of Essex research has revealed.

The study encouraged staff to do simple short workouts eight times a day to fight fatigue from back-to-back Zoom-style meetings.

The research is released just days after the Government announced a work from home order and a raft of new measures to battle the Omicron variant.

It is thought that by arranging healthy plans that are scheduled into the day managers can conquer the effects of a sedentary lifestyle exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to hybrid working many office staff said they miss out on incidental exercise, like walking to meetings, spend more time sitting at their desks and pick at fatty food in their kitchens.

The research by the Department of Psychology’s Dr Dawn Holford - in association with start-up Keep Fit Eat Fit- found giving staff a plan to integrate short bursts of exercise helped them get moving.

Dr Holford said that the exercises worked more when they were incorporated into the working day, rather than when workers were sent blanket information on email.

“Plans could help to generate more accountability from staff to try the exercises, and once they experience the benefits, they are more likely to continue,” said Dr Holford.

“This study is a promising sign that managers could encourage staff simply by helping them plan flexible short breaks throughout the day."

Over the course of a week, staff at a large organisation were emailed simple exercises like squats and arm raises to incorporate throughout the working day, videos for which were accessed via the company’s web app.

Healthy recipes were also given to workers to eat nutritious food at the right time whilst working at home.

Nearly 70 people were studied, and in follow-up interviews, many were surprised at the exercises they could do without interfering with work.

Some revealed they often “felt flat” from being desk-bound while working from home and welcomed the positive impact on their health.

The company will now use this study to shape their plans and encourage hybrid workers to get in shape and avoid illnesses such as deep vein thrombosis.

The Essex-based company now hopes to incorporate the behavioural study into its business plan and hopes the findings will inspire staff stay fit as restrictions are raised.

“I'm excited to see how this new research will help us improve our products and services," said Angela Knox, co-founder of Keep Fit Eat Fit.

“We've had some really insightful conversations with Dr Dawn Holford that have helped shape the way we think about user experience within our wellbeing platform.”