With sitting being revealed as the new smoking millions of Australians in office jobs may have the most dangerous job in the country according to Shane Bilsborough, former ‘Go For Your Life’ health campaign ambassador and co-founder of Stepathlon.
“The body of evidence is now overwhelming. Today’s sedentary office environment has a more far-reaching negative health impact than even the direst reports of just a few years ago”, says Bilsborough.
“Sitting for six hours a day at work, as 77% of Australian office workers do, has a direct correlation with long-term disease, reduced productivity and absenteeism.”
“In the US, some commentators are even predicting that ‘excessive sitting’ could be the basis for future workplace litigation. We know from our own research that participation in corporate wellness programs has a direct correlation with a reduction in risk factors for long-term disease and increased worker productivity. The key is to make these programs more accessible to more businesses and make participation easier.”
Stepathlon, now in its third year globally, aims to reduce the cost to business of employee health programs and maximise participation rates through increased engagement. Stepathletes (Stepathlon participants) aim to walk a minimum of 10,000 steps per day for 100 days.
Last year almost 31,000 Stepathletes from 210 companies and 34 countries spent 2 hours and 24 minutes less sitting down per day.
“Despite the well-known health benefits, with the tightening of global markets over the last few years, corporate wellness programs have been cut back by many companies”, says Bilsborough.
“At the same time, these companies have been investing in technology to reduce operating costs. By doing the same thing, Stepathlon has been able develop a 10,000 step a day program at a price 30% lower than competitive products.
“We’ve also developed new online and mobile platforms for Stepathlon that are more engaging, interactive and intuitive, and as well as the 100-day virtual race, we’ve provided participants with a 12-month wellness program that covers mental health, nutrition, chronic disease management, programs for getting active with your family, challenging yourself and a chance to take a look at your own health status.”
In a 2013 survey Stepathletes reported a significant rise in energy and fitness levels, reduction in stress and body weight, and improved sleeping patterns.
The survey also found that 28% of Stepathletes took less sick leave, 34% reported increased productivity, and 34% experienced increased engagement at their place of work.
The health benefits accruing to individuals included 41% of Stepathletes reporting increased energy levels, 40% increasing their fitness level, 47% losing weight, 39% improving their quality of sleep and 34% experiencing lower stress levels.
“With the reduced operating budgets many Australian companies are facing the cost of our program, at just over 60 cents a day per participant, is a practical and low cost investment when you consider the return in terms of employee health, reduced absenteeism, increased productivity and better employee engagement,” says Bilsborough.
You can find out more about Stepathlon or register for the 2014 event at www.stepathlon.com. Stepathlon takes place from 3 September to 11 December 2014 across the globe.
Stepathlon founders Shane Bilsborough (L) and Ravi Krishnan
Stepathlon is a pedometer-based mass participation corporate initiative that motivates individuals to take 10,000 steps a day, as recommended by global health authorities.
Stepathlon co-founder and Chief Wellness Officer, Shane Bilsborough, introduced the 10,000 step a day concept to many Australian corporates almost a decade ago. Business partner and co-founder, Ravi Krishnan, is the former Managing Director South Asia of global sports, fashion and media business, IMG, and a prominent name in the sports, entertainment and media industry in India. Shane and Ravi both grew up in Melbourne. They first met while at school in Mentone over 30 years ago.
Stepathlon is a race around a ‘virtual world’ for organisations of all sizes, across all industries and countries. It enhances wellness and engagement through its 12 month programme and has been designed to encourage activity and fitness, and foster health and well being in a fun, inclusive and relevant manner. Stepathlon aims to break the cycle of sedentary behaviour by turning the sedentary to active, and the active to more active, thereby increasing overall productivity.
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