‘The Blue Zones’ are populations that experience longer, healthier and fuller lives. You might have heard of some of these before, as scientists love to study their behaviours to try to understand what contributes to their longevity. The Blue Zones include Okinawa in Japan, Sardinia in Italy, Ikaria in Greece, The Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica and Loma Linda in California, where people are three times more likely to live to 100 than Australians. People living in Blue Zones enjoy much longer lives and lower rates of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and dementia compared to that seen in the Western world – Tim Crowe, Associate Professor in Nutrition at Deakin University And what is common amongst the people of The Blue Zones? They lead naturally non-sedentary lives, often moving every 30 minutes or so. While Australians understand the need for exercise, what we aim to do with the BeUpstanding Toolkit is to help people in sedentary jobs move more throughout the day. It’s these small changes to behaviour that can have a big impact on health and wellbeing!
Of course some sitting is ok – we all need to have a rest – but sitting for long periods of time without getting up may be particularly bad for our health. Regularly changing your posture between sitting, standing and moving is the key: achieving this is the primary aim of BeUpstanding™. Aim to change your posture every 30 minutes.
In late 2015 we ran a pilot study to test and refine the BeUpstanding toolkit that you see today. Along the way, we heard some really inspiring stories from people who created their own strategies to BeUpstanding™ in their workplace — some that were simple, some that were quirky, some that were straight up genius! Here are 3 strategies for a little inspiration. The 3 o’clock Mexican Wave One workplace we partnered with adopted a 3 PM office-wide Mexican wave to get their staff on their feet. It’s something everyone takes part in, and never fails to crack some smiles! The stairs of gratitude Our friends at a busy studio in Melbourne reside on the sixth floor of their office building. They instated a challenge to walk the stairs once a day, and on each floor people gave thanks for something they were grateful for in their life. The shake it off One workplace that dealt with a lot of customer complaints encouraged an office-wide policy to stand up and shake it off after every phone call. Staff reported a lift in their feelings of resilience and overall stress.
We asked Workplace Champions for their top tips to running BeUpstanding™ and here’s what they said… Don’t do it alone! Make sure you have a support network of other keen staff members who can step in to help you, especially during busy periods or when you are away. Be creative and try to have fun. Staff respond well to innovative and fun ideas. The more fun you have running the program, the more likely staff will follow your lead. Don’t be disheartened by nay-sayers. There’s usually at least one or two general and/ or management level staff who are skeptical or unwilling to make changes. Try not to let their voices be the loudest in the crowd. Print out the program overview to help you stay on track and tick off the steps as you go so that you remember where you are up to. Regular reminders in your calendar prompting you to go back into the Toolkit can help make sure you don’t lose momentum. Think about regular ‘re-launches’ and ways to keep people motivated (like themed morning teas, quizzes, competitions and challenges). Perseverance is the key…and you’ll slowly start seeing that standing up, sitting less and moving more…