Cubicle dwellers are familiar with the afternoon slump. The drooping shoulders, the heavy eyelids, the desire to crawl underneath a desk and take a nap.
The Boston athletic footwear company New Balance recently launched a 90-day pilot program aimed at combatting desk-bound drowsiness and found that employees who moved more throughout the day — from participating in scavenger hunts on the stairs to taking a lunchtime yoga class to challenging a co-worker to race down the hallway — not only had more energy but felt better about their jobs.
About 300 employees in Boston and Lawrence participated in the program, created by Wellness & Prevention Inc., a workplace wellness company in Fort Washington, Pa. It included an increased number of on-site fitness classes, daily e-mail tips about ways to increase heart rates in the office, and volunteers who encouraged employees to get moving.
Sitting in one place for too long can impede blood circulation, leading to a drop in metabolism and energy, said Jack Groppel of Wellness & Prevention. Soon, you’re cranky, sleepy, and surfing the Web.
After three months of getting up from their desks more often, 37 percent of participants said they had high energy levels in the middle of the day, an 11 percent increase from before the program began. Forty-two percent of employees said they felt more engaged and focused. Ratings for job enthusiasm, inspiration, and meaningfulness also increased.
Now, more people are taking the stairs and standing up at their computers, said New Balance spokeswoman Amy Dow. “It’s definitely enhanced the energy in the office,” she said.