Physical health: The evil side of teleworking

Since the beginning of the pandemic, several specialists have raised the flag and issued warnings about the risks of teleworking, such as the feeling of isolation, procrastination, damage to mental and physical health.

It is often about the physical problems caused by a sedentary lifestyle. Long before the pandemic, the alarm from Health Canada was heard and, in 2013, this organization revealed that 77.8% of Canadians over the age of 18 did not meet Canadian recommendations for physical activity.[1]

Lack of physical activity

When the physical activity of a day of teleworking comes down to taking four steps to your computer in the morning, six steps to get to the kitchen to prepare your lunch (not to mention that it often happens to eat while working in front of your computer) and four more steps to leave your computer at the end of the day, there is cause for concern. This situation may seem like a caricature, but it nevertheless comes close to reality for many of us.

Assuming that the health of an organization is inextricably linked to that of its staff, it is important to measure your organizational risk. If management does not act and does not encourage its staff to move and to ensure that they maintain healthy lifestyles, it therefore increases their risk of decline in terms of performance, job satisfaction and productivity.

An active and healthy life

According to Canada’s Physical Activity Guide to Healthy Active Living, the benefits of participating in daily physical activity are numerous :

  • Reduced stress level
  • Relief of depressive and anxiety symptoms
  • Increase in energy
  • Improved sleep and digestion [2]

The Kino-Québec scientific committee has also commented on the question and proposed the following model.

Physical health Adaptation of O’Donnel, recovered from ‘’L’activité physique au travail, des bienfaits pour tous.’’[3]

For any human being, being active daily is an important exercise in self-discipline. All the more so in the context of teleworking and confinement. Employers can nevertheless have a decisive impact by encouraging their teams to be more active. The effort then becomes collective and mobilizing.

Physical health at work

Here are some accessible ways to encourage physical activity in the workplace.

  1. Offer virtual training sessions to your staff. Several training centers offer this service. Can be offered during working hours or at lunchtime;
  2. Launch group challenges with goals to achieve, for example, reach 100,000 steps per week or 100 active minutes per work team per day;
  3. Offer active breaks during meetings, training sessions or virtual conferences with Cardio Plein Air or any other partner;
  4. Register your teams for the Quebec Business Challenge;
  5. Organize one active meeting per week. Team members should be moving (walking, using indoor exercise equipment, etc.) throughout the meeting;
  6. Encourage employees to download an application such as ParticipAction;
  7. Provide an allowance for the purchase of sports equipment;
  8. Check with your group insurance provider, as some offer services such as reimbursement of kinesiology expenses to help businesses reduce the costs associated with a sedentary lifestyle;
  9. Create an internal committee that will be responsible for proposing and organizing sports initiatives and promoting healthy lifestyles (the equivalent of the ‘’social committee’’).

Sensitive to this issue, the Government of Quebec has set up the ‘’Programme d’aide financière aux entreprises en matière d’activités physiques (PAFEMAP)’’  in order to support SMEs that invest in the health of their staff.

Now is the time to take action. Let’s go!

By Ariane Legault, M.Sc., CRHA – Organizational Development Consultant

HR Blog Editor – Iceberg Management

 [1] Agence de la santé publique du Canada (2016). Quel est l’état de santé des Canadiens? (numéro ISBN : 978-0-660-06583-0). Récupéré de

[2] Gouvernement du Canada (2021). Votre santé l’activité physique. Récupéré le 20 février 2021 de

[3] Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur (2019). L’activité physique au travail, des bienfaits pour tous (numéro ISBN 978-2-550-83430-4). Récupéré de :