Benefits of Active Movement

For Employers
October 6, 2022
Active movement benefits

Since founding, our mission has always been to give people access to a life that’s free from pain. Underlying this mission is the knowledge that living is moving: when something stops moving, it dies.

It’s in our human DNA to run, jump, and climb, all for the sake of survival. Thankfully, we no longer outrun predators on a daily basis to survive, but the differences in today’s human body are stark — and lack of active movement is to blame. Other behaviors follow, paving the way to poor diets, little exercise, and the onset of chronic illness. The obesity epidemic has a grip on the world. Conditions like heart disease, diabetes, chronic pain, and cancer are on a steep incline, each of these illnesses exacerbated by a sedentary lifestyle. Today, the average person in the United States or Europe is less active than even fifty years ago. This is a human crisis.

Musculoskeletal pain makes movement a challenge

COVID-19 has shaped the modern office — for better and for worse. Nearly two years after the pandemic, 6 in 10 Americans work from home, and this number is growing. As more and more people move their offices to their bedrooms, daily, regular movement is harder to come by.

As a result, musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions are on the rise. While many reports estimate that 50% of American adults suffer from MSK issues, Sword’s research has found that in the wake of the pandemic, the number may be higher. In a study examining 1,040 working Americans, almost 80% were suffering MSK pain, with 79.2% reporting pain in more than two areas of their body.

For two-fifths (40.5%) of pain sufferers, the pain was relatively recent. Among those for whom the pain is chronic (pain that has lasted more than 12 weeks), 37.9% had experienced an increase in pain since the pandemic began.

How can you make room for movement?

Good health favors active motion. While exercise may seem overwhelming to many, a daily commitment to move can keep you sharp. Interestingly, even a commute can be protective against pain. Sword found that the biggest gaps in pain prevalence were between those working from home only some days (26.1%) and those working from home either every day (34.7%) or not at all (38.4%), suggesting that those who vary their work environment by commuting into a workplace (even 1-2 times a week) are less likely to be in pain. Whether that’s an office space, a library, or a local coffee shop, creating a second workspace for yourself will improve your odds against MSK pain.

Another way: take an assessment of your day. How long are you sitting in one spot? How often are you getting up to move around? Commit to taking a break every hour to stand up and sit back down. Enjoy a walk around your yard, complex, or a nearby park. Or simply go prepare a meal for yourself. Doing so will help relieve acute aches, which can progress into chronic pains when they’re not addressed.

How does movement benefit you?

Something as simple as a daily walk can increase blood flow to keep your muscles healthy, and bring nutrients to damaged tissues to help them repair. It also releases hormones like endorphins to keep your brain happy and sharp, and triggers our innate pain-relieving system, sending endogenous (that is, made internally) opioids and cannabinoids through your body.

People who perform 20 minutes of light exercise each day are also more likely to avoid conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and chronic pain. They are also likely to evade mental and emotional challenges, such as anxiety and depression.

In a 2015 study about the emotional benefits of movement, researchers found that “individuals who engage in regular physical activity are more likely to have higher self-esteem, optimism, and happiness.” But exercise is hard work. According to another study in the journal Sports Medicine, “there is a need for physical activity and exercise programmes customized for […] patients in overcoming barriers in order to sustain this important health behavior.”

As you continue to make movement part of your daily (and hourly!) routine, improved health will follow.

How digital physical therapy can make a difference

Each day, your body needs a variety of movements to maintain health and strength. Pain in the workplace is a given, but treating it, or preventing the onset of chronic pain, is possible — no matter where you are. Easy-to-use digital physical therapy is designed to help people move more comfortably. With access to a licensed physical therapist, and technology that reads your biofeedback and corrects your form, Sword Health members have the power to heal at home.

Sword’s proven how active movement can relieve people from pain — but it’s also responsible for more. With digital physical therapy, members experience a 62% reduction in pain, 60% reduction in surgery, and 48% fewer opioids. Beyond these factors, Sword members also experience 52% less anxiety and depression, and recover productivity losses by 42%.

Learn how Sword can help your people by reaching out today.

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