National Employee Health and Fitness Day

By Boone Abelsitting

Exercise Physiologist and Fitness Specialist

Many of us have a desk job, which means we spend a great deal of time seated in front of a computer screen each and every week.  Add in the daily commute and a few hours at home watching television or spending more time on the computer and it’s no wonder our health is declining in this country.  American’s are seated on average six to nine hours per day, which is more time than most of us sleep at night.  As the hours pass, the last thing on our mind is the harmful effect of sitting currently taking place on our bodies.  Often referred to as “sitting disease,” physical inactivity has become one of the top five risk factors for cardiovascular disease in the United States. 

Why is too much sitting so harmful?

Fascinating new research is unraveling the mystery of why too much daily sitting is so unsafe.  Scientists think that too much sitting impairs the body’s ability to deposit fat from the blood stream into the body.  These constantly elevated blood fats are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.  In addition, researchers have observed that too much sitting during the day impairs the functioning of the body’s healthy cholesterol, known as HDL cholesterol.  HDL is the scavenger cholesterol that cleans up plaque sticking to arteries.  If healthy cholesterol loses its ability to clean arteries, it will also increase a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease.

All studies are indicating that moving more during the day, in addition to getting the daily 30 minutes of moderate activity on a daily basis, is necessary to lower one’s risk of cardiovascular disease and other causes of mortality.

 -American College of Sports Medicine (2011).


Enter: National Employee Health and Fitness Day 2014

NEHFD is a nationally celebrated event on the third Wednesday in May to promote the benefits of physical activity for individuals through their work site wellness programs and health promotion activities.  This year it is held on May 21, so mark your calendar and get ready to move!

National Employee Health and Fitness Day is more important than ever as we aim to reverse the sedentary trend and keep employees healthy and happy through increased movement and exercise.  The benefits are well worth the small amount of effort needed, and the end result could potentially lengthen your lifespan!

How can employees easily increase activity during the day? 

·       Schedule activity breaks during the day like walking for ten minutes.

·       Replace chairs with stability balls or treadmills.

·       Take part in a push up or squat challenge.

·       Use the stairs instead of the elevator.

·       Walk, run or bike to work.

 ·       Most importantly, utilize on-site fitness centers!

I already workout, does this really apply to me?

Yes. According to James A. Levine, M.D., Ph.D., “Any extended sitting such as behind a desk at work or behind the wheel can be harmful.  What’s more, spending a few hours a week at the gym or otherwise engaged in moderate or vigorous activity doesn’t seem to significantly offset the risk.”  Extra attention needs to be placed on total movement throughout the day, as adverse metabolic changes begin to happen in as little as two hours of inactivity.   

How does my company benefit?

Employees are not the only ones that benefit from an increase in activity; through improved physical fitness and stamina, employers see a more productive workforce with less down time due to sickness and absenteeism.  Overall well-being among employees reduces stress and creates a better work environment.       


American College of Sports Medicine (2011). Reducing Sedentary Behaviors: Sitting Less and Moving More.  Reprinted with permission of the American College of Sports Medicine.

Levine, James A., M.D., Ph.D. “Adult Health.”  Sitting Risks: How Harmful is Too Much Sitting?  Mayo Clinic, 16 June 2012. Web. 10 April. 2014. 

About the Author:

After graduating from Western Illinois University in 2004, Boone furthered his career and enthusiasm for health and fitness by going on to become certified through the ISSA as both a fitness trainer and specialist in sports nutrition. Boone has trained hundreds of people in a variety of settings from private one-on-one sessions to group exercise classes to organizing fitness challenges and designing running plans.  He recently transferred from the University of Phoenix in Arizona to take on the Fitness Manager role here at Fit Studio. 

While Boone does believe that the foundation of a good exercise program revolves around strength training, he loves all things endurance and competes in several races per year. If he’s not in the fitness center, you’ll most likely find him out training for a 10K, marathon or an ultra-distance event!

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