Exercise at work - why a trampoline in the office is so healthy

Exercise at work - why a trampoline in the office is so healthy

A trampoline at work? Does that make you think of a children’s nursery or a play paradise? Anything but your own job? What if a trampoline at work wasn't a distraction and was more than a nice gimmick? Find out here why the bellicon mini trampoline is the ideal supplement for the office to improve your performance at work and your physical and mental fitness in your free time.

Trend sports: Sitting

You do it when eating, reading, driving a car, taking the train, in the evening on the sofa and most of us also when working: sitting. Every fifth German spends more than nine hours on an office chair per day. Every ninth even about 11 hours a day. And this despite the fact that this hunched posture is unnatural for the skeleton, muscles and posture in the long run. And while some days we don't do anything else, most of us are sitting incorrectly. The biggest fallacy: If you decide to go to the gym after work to make up for the hours you’ve been sitting down instead of going directly to the sofa, you're wrong. Because going to the gym in the evening does not help to compensate for the long sitting time at work.
Long-term sitting is said to have an even greater impact on life expectancy than smoking. According to an Australian study (2011), from the age of 25, just one hour on the sofa without adequate compensation reduces your life expectancy by 21.8 minutes. Smoking a cigarette in comparison “only” 11 minutes.
Therefore, the World Health Organization (WHO) ranks physical inactivity as the fourth leading preventable cause of death. Every year 3.2 million people die worldwide due to a lack of exercise.
Long-term sitting is said to have an even greater impact on life expectancy than smoking. According to an Australian study (2011) , from the age of 25, just one hour on the sofa without adequate compensation reduces your life expectancy by 21.8 minutes. Smoking a cigarette in comparison “only” 11 minutes.
Therefore, the World Health Organization (WHO) ranks physical inactivity as the fourth leading preventable cause of death. Every year 3.2 million people die worldwide due to a lack of exercise.
Zurich employees training, standing on the bellicon; photo detail.
Other negative consequences of sitting too much are:
  • The metabolism slows down so that fewer calories are burned. This increases the risk of obesity and diabetes.
  • The risk of calcification of the heart vessels and heart attack increases.
  • The performance of the musculature decreases, so that it shortens and poor posture is encouraged – the neck and back musculature are particularly affected here.
  • The risk of mental illness increases. If there is a lack of movement in everyday life (whether at work or in private life), you are often in a bad mood, unmotivated, lazy and tired.
  • You are significantly more susceptible to stress.

Health success = economic success?

Both you and your employer will benefit from health-oriented concepts in the workplace. Because for a company, the calculation is quite simple: Healthy and satisfied employees bring economically measurable success thanks to fewer sick days. Several studies have already shown that company health management can be associated with a 1:2 return on investment (ROI) of 7. That means employers ultimately benefit almost threefold for every euro invested.
And you personally will certainly find your work easier if you know that it won’t make you ill, but can even improve your existing condition. This applies to back pain as well as your heart health, your stress level and your sleep.

What about your job?

There are many ways in which healthy working can also be supported at your job, and sometimes so easy that you may not have even noticed them.
It can start with the office equipment. Is the light sufficient to protect your eyes? Is there enough ventilation? You can also take a critical look at your desk. Ergonomic chairs make it easier to sit down, and height-adjustable tables are even better so that you can change your position and work standing up from time to time.
Perhaps your employer will also support you with additional offers? This can range from nutrition seminars, a fruit basket, free water dispenser in the office or sports offers. Either directly on site or in the form of a (discounted) organised course for which you can register.
Frank Lüttke (Zurich) with his bellicon course at Zurich AG Cologne.

bellicon at work

Our bellicon mini trampoline is a small all-rounder for the office. The smallest version with a diameter of 100 cm is particularly space-saving and can therefore be used ideally for offices and home offices. The variant with the short legs was designed to be able to use the bellicon in combination with a standing desk and thus ensure an upright posture during working hours. However, this variant is not intended for exercises or a short break, but only for easy and comfortable standing. You can currently get the short legs for your bellicon by request from our customer support.

How the bellicon came to the Zurich Insurance campus

We introduce: Khristin D. Randazzo
Khristin D. Randazzo has been working with bellicon for several years. As a consultant, she accompanies the change to open working environments with a focus on health, change, culture and experienced acoustics in modern working environments. With her expertise, she advised the work council of the Zurich Group Germany on the subject of new working environments and health in the workplace and, together with them, was able to introduce the concept for healthy working in open working environments, in which the bellicon is integrated.
During our visit to Zurich, we had the opportunity to interview the work council members Karl-Heinz Marx and Albrecht Bonin about their visions and implementation of this health concept. Rüdiger Schmiers, from Health Management at Zurich, and employees Michaela Ott and Frank Lütke spent an afternoon presenting the concept and premises of the Zurich campus together with Khristin.
With success: For several years, the Zurich Group Germany has been known not only because of its extensive range of health and sports activities, but also because of the many satisfied employees who appreciate the wide range of offers in the workplace and the feel-good atmosphere. In 2022 they were even voted Germany's most popular employer.

Why is exercise in the workplace so important in your eyes?

Khristin D. Randazzo: For more than 20 years I have been dealing with topics that affect people in modern working environments and with the interaction between people and space. Of course, this also includes, and very centrally, the topic of health in the workplace. The effects of sedentary work on the musculoskeletal system and on the psyche are well known in the office world. Currently reinforced by working in the home office. The classic Corporate Health Management measures, which are usually offered outside of regular working hours, have their rightful place, but in my opinion they are no longer sufficient to cope with the sensory overload, digitalisation, the increasing complexity of working on a PC and the often restless open work environment.
This means that health in the workplace must not only enable exercise, but also allow brain-friendly working. This includes the understanding that the brain works rhythmically and that phases of concentration are followed by phases of processing. And this is where the concept of 'healthy work in modern working environments' comes into play. At its core, it is based on allowing us to work in a brain-friendly manner if we succeed in reintegrating the natural regulatory mechanisms that are inherent in humans into the working day and also into our private everyday life. Anyone who succeeds in making their working day brain-friendly will experience the benefit that this has for personal well-being, for motivation and for performance.
Albrecht Bonin: In practical terms, this means that there are opportunities for body regulation and optimisation of concentration phases directly at the workplace, as well as opportunities to take a short time-out in the event of e.g. thought blockages and unproductive phases in order to collect oneself and recover briefly before continuing with renewed vigour. To make this possible, the work council, together with health management, has included 'micro-breaks during working hours'. Micro-breaks are breaks of 3 to 10 minutes, modelled on the still valid 'screen breaks'. Here, too, there are various possibilities for regeneration.

How did you come to bring the bellicon mini trampoline into the office?

Khristin Randazzo: I've actually been looking for a device that has a positive effect on body and mind in just a few minutes without having to be athletic. It took me a while to realise that the solution had already been in my home for years.
At Zurich Insurance we introduced the bellicon in two steps. Already before the move to the Zurich Campus, it was integrated in the context of company sports and in the pilot areas for a new working world. And with the move into the new building as part of the health concept. The bellicon mini trampoline plays a central role within the concept because it already has a noticeable effect on the body and mind within a few minutes of use, without any sporting demands.
Rüdiger Schmiers: In order for such an offer to be used, introductory workshops are needed and often a lot of patience. Some experience it immediately as a blessing and others feel many a belief system within themselves, such as 'we are not here to play, but to work'. Also on the subject of breaks, there are often reservations such as 'time is money' or 'we are not here to play but to work'. So, understandably, it takes a little time to try things out until micro-breaks that are used in a targeted way are experienced as a gain in time. Over time, it becomes part of the working culture to take a micro-break to clear the mind or to bounce on the bellicon for a few minutes to get out of a sitting position and relieve tension.
Home office miracle mini trampoline
Thanks to the elastic mat under your feet, your muscles are activated without additional exercises or movements and your joints are relieved. You immediately feel a form of stress relief. This is important in everyday working life, not only to have fun at work and to come home less exhausted in the evening, but also to be more productive. The movement on the mini trampoline also stimulates the metabolism, blood circulation and the lymphatic system. Tense muscles, as you probably know them from your back and neck in particular, are loosened and stretched. This allows you to improve these symptoms and also prevent them in the future.

The bellicon in everyday office life

But what is the best way to integrate the mini trampoline into everyday office life? Khristin says that there are a wide variety of options that Zurich employees no longer only use in the office:

1. At a fixed location

At Zurich Insurance, there are a number of break rooms on campus for the purpose of micro-breaks. In each of these rooms there is a bellicon and another device for regulation (heart-balance chair, Brainlight massage chair, etc..)
If you can't set up an extra room or follow a different concept, you can find a niche for a bellicon almost anywhere. Whether next to the copier, in the break room or in another corner that is not used often. The mini trampoline has its place and can be used by everyone in your team for an active exercise break. Therefore, it does not have to be a special break room if the premises do not necessarily allow it.

2. Individually at your workplace

In combination with a height-adjustable desk, the mini trampoline can of course also be placed at your own desk. The big advantage: You don't even have to interrupt your work to do something good for yourself, just simply raise the table and stand on the bellicon. Due to desk sharing and the open working environment, however, those involved in the project at Zurich decided against the trampoline directly at the workplace and opted for time-outs.

3. Creative meeting rooms

Hardly anyone wants to admit it, but probably everyone has experienced it at least once. A seemingly endless meeting in which, unless you have to present something yourself, at some point your thoughts will wander and you will become tired. This can be prevented with mini trampolines in the room. This may sound unusual at first, but it also has the great advantage that you and your colleagues remain focused and the new energy can lead to better and more creative ideas. In addition, bouncing can also stimulate creativity, so you would have killed two birds with one stone.

4. Company sports - trampoline courses

Another example from Zurich Insurance: Taking part in a small sports session during the lunch break or after work – this works with trampoline courses both alone and in groups. bellicon enthusiastic employees have been trained at bellicon to become trainers. Michaela Ott and Frank Lütge, who also accompanied us on our visit, offer their colleagues bellicon training. In addition to other sports and exercise offers, which are listed in a weekly training plan, employees can book bellicon sessions - sometimes also during working hours. The small, big side effect: In addition to your health and motivation, regular group activities also strengthen team spirit and, quite incidentally, physical and emotional tension is released.
Example photo retreat room at Zurich AG Cologne

What does such a retreat and these exercises look like?

Karl-Heinz Marx: At Zurich Insurance, each floor has its own theme. The office and break rooms are designed accordingly. One floor is Canada themed. A Canadian landscape hangs in the break room and the break room is also designed in the Canadian style. In principle, in a time-out there is, for example, a heart-balance chair on which you can put your feet up, a bellicon mini-trampoline with side handles and padded edges or a power-napping chair. There is also a Brainlight massage chair in some time-out rooms. It is important that the rooms are always accessible. The agreement is that employees can report to their supervisor or take a break in the form of a “micro break” of their own accord. We have put up posters in each room with different exercise ideas for a short trampoline session. And on top of that we have group trampoline courses 2 to 3 times a week in our sports hall. Due to the pandemic, we were of course not in the office for a long time - but I know of many employees who have bought a trampoline for their home office so that they can also enjoy a short bounce break at home.
Online courses were also given – this online offer is currently being expanded and established.

What is the feedback from the employees?

Frank Lütke and Michaela Ott: When we started with the new exercise concept, the employees were initially reluctant. Also due to the pandemic, new colleagues had heard little or nothing about 'micro breaks', exercise options and time-outs. For quite a few, it is initially a great effort to take a micro-break to maintain performance because they are afraid of what colleagues and superiors might think of them. Ultimately, however, a sporty micro break is nothing more than the well-known - and accepted by colleagues - smoking break. It takes time to develop a (new) norm here. The aim is, of course, to get people moving, even those who don't have the will to move. This requires a certain acceptance and also the knowledge that it is completely okay and even beneficial to take micro breaks.
Albrecht Bonin: The employees who take micro-breaks and feel the benefits for their health and well-being, follow the principle of exemplary living and, over time, also pull their colleagues with them. We will therefore continue the health concept. It is important to us that every employee has the opportunity to do something for their health independently and with little effort throughout the day, ultimately saving time and gaining energy. Since we went back to 'normal operation', the campus has become increasingly lively. And, the more people there are on campus, the more important the topic of health in the workplace becomes.