The Saint Paul Chamber of Commerce’s monthly newsletter featured Salo’s transformative culture of well-being.

Salo and affiliate NumberWorks are the leaders in driving business outcomes by leveraging talent in finance, accounting and human resources; as well as, finance and accounting search services. The award-winning firm is among the fastest-growing staffing companies in the country with offices in Minneapolis-St. Paul and Chicago. Recently announced as an Employee Wellness finalist for Minnesota Business Magazine’s 2013 Leaders in Health Care Awards, Salo is not shy to redefine standards for employee well-being. In fact, Salo has been catching a lot of buzz recently for becoming the first Blue Zones® Certified Workplace in America. In 2007 Salo participated in a study with Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic on the impact of movement in the workplace. As a result of the study Salo has treadmill desks (all internal employees have access) and sit-stand desks in their office. The open floor plan contains a game room encouraging movement with a Ping-Pong table, pool table, basketball hoop and other games that employees are encouraged to do throughout the workday. Research consistently supports that sitting at your desk all day is disastrous to your health, but a standing work station or treadmill desk can greatly prevent your risk of health complications. Using a treadmill desk or simply standing for periods of time throughout the day significantly decreases stress levels, reduces your risk of heart disease, and sustains healthy brain activity. “Our bodies are not meant to sit all day,” said Salo’s chief talent officer Ann Ruschy, “with treadmill desks we have better focus, more energy and are more productive throughout the day.” Supporting Ruschy’s statement, the results of the Mayo Clinic’s study were compelling. Employees’ waistlines began to shrink (average 8.8 lb. weight loss) and cholesterol levels decreased. On the flip side, productivity went up, as well as profits. You can probably guess what happened next – they kept the treadmill desks Standing/walking desks versus sitting should not be looked at as a fad, but rather a lifestyle change. In fact, the Alpa Patel of the American Cancer Society found there is a direct connection between longer periods of sitting to a higher mortality rate. What’s more startling is that this holds true regardless of whether an individual works out for 45 to 60 minutes a day.

How Sitting Harms Your Body

Right after an individual sits down, the electrical activity in their muscles slows down and their calorie-burning rate drops to one calorie per minute. If you sit for a full 24-hour period, you will experience a 40 percent reduction in glucose uptake in insulin, which can eventually cause type 2 diabetes. Over time, your symptoms typically get worse. Sitting for over six hours a day for a decade or two can cut away about seven quality adjusted life years.

What You Can Do

Luckily, there are simple things you can do to avoid these health risks, regardless of whether you have a treadmill desk or not. Stay active at work. This includes simply getting up from your desk and walking around every hour. Conduct a standing meeting or walking meeting. If your desk adjusts in height, try standing periodically throughout the day. You use different muscles when you stand versus when you sit, which helps burn more calories.

Blue Zones Certified Workplace

Salo recently integrated the Blue Zones™ Power 9 into their organization, as well as their homes. Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest, discovered these nine core elements when he researched the longest living, healthiest people in the world. These practical suggestions include: moving naturally, adopting the right outlook, downshifting, identifying your purpose, eating wisely, enjoying a glass of red wine and connecting with others to foster meaningful relationships.

Salo employees learned through the Blue Zone philosophy the importance of connecting with people and how it affects overall health and well-being. They learned that understanding ones purpose has been proven to increase health and happiness. In an effort to help people identify their purpose, Salo hosted a Purpose Workshop with author and coach, Richard Leider. They also provided information and support with a cooking event where chefs demonstrated Blue Zones approved recipes that are affordable and easy to prepare. Their efforts have lead to employees feeling more fulfilled in many aspects of their life whether it be an increase in community involvement activities, choosing and preparing healthier foods, fostering meaningful connections with one another or increasing movement into their lives.