Power down to power up: Screen-Free Week 2014

By Johanna Goetzel

May 5-11 is this year’s national Screen-Free Week, encouraging everyone to turn off digital entertainment and turn on life. At work, trends of increased sedentary behavior have proven negative health impacts but a screen-free philosophy can encourage regular breaks, improving your concentration and your health.

Since 1970, Americans work an additional 200 hours per year, translating to more hours in chairs and in front of screens. Both of these ‘risk factors’ contribute to the growing weight of the nation.

Dr. Wilmot, a research fellow at the University of Leicester, found that people with the highest sedentary behavior had a 112 per cent increase in their relative risk of developing diabetes; a 147 per cent increase in their risk for cardiovascular disease; and a 49 percent greater risk of dying prematurely — even if they regularly exercised.

According to research by the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO),  employers incur large costs from their obese employees, between USD $644- 2,500, per person per year. Companies are now reevaluating metrics for financial success and worker productivity, investing in their office environments to promote health.

A fun way to take a break, for physical and mental well-being can be to follow the lead of Dr. Yancey, professor of health services at UCLA who advocates for group exercise breaks and a simple workout that can be done at work. Studies show that these can reduce sick leave and workers’ compensation claims. As an employer, investing in well-being leads to productivity increases, with absenteeism costs falling by about $2.37 for every dollar spent.

Power down to power up and take a moment to move away from screens this week.

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