Thanks to local television ratings, on any given night you can flip to the local eleven o’clock news and told stories of the dangers lurking in your own backyard or favorite restaurant. It seems that with every “shocking revelation” our world becomes a little less safe or unhealthy. While you can avoid a restaurant or the dangers of the outdoors, most adults have little choice but to get up each day and head to work.
For a lot of us, the workplace is a sedentary environment and prolong periods on our posteriors introduces a myriad of health risks that until recently have largely gone unattended to. This is not to say those who spend a majority of time on their feet don’t have their own list of long term concerns, namely musculoskeletal disorders in the back, knees, and legs. However, the long term impact of a sedentary workplace is alarming and it is now our turn to share a few shocking revelations.
Perhaps the most alarming statistics on the subject have come from an Australian research fellow Dr. van der Ploeg in Sydney. Whether a job involves physical labor or not, most people prefer to spend a good bit of their leisure time relaxing on their bottoms. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that until it is coupled with a sedentary workplace.
Between sleep, sedentary work, and leisure time on the couch, a person could easily go an entire day spending less than an hour or two on their feet. It doesn’t take a doctorate to know that the lifestyle described is unhealthy and can lead to major risks. Dr. van der Ploeg and his colleagues found that sitting for prolonged periods at work contribute to increased probability of diabetes, obesity, non alcohol related liver disease, and suffering a stroke or heart attack.
They found men over a 13 year period who sit for more than 6 hours had an 18% greater chance of death. Even more alarming was that women over this same stretch had a 40% increase of death compared to women who spend less than 3 hours a day sitting in an office.
Of course for most of us, sitting at work is unavoidable. But that doesn’t mean we can’t find ways to get up and get moving throughout our day at the office. Getting out of the chair at regular intervals is the easiest way to combat these risks. Some companies and government facilities have even began installing specialized work stations that allow employees to walk a treadmill while performing computer tasks.
While these new machines are fairly expensive, the cost is minimal when measured against the rise in healthcare costs. Companies have seen an increase in the overall health of their employees and have cut expenses through a decrease in premiums. While a specialized machine is pricey, those who take their work home can easily replicate their functions with a well designed office/home gym.
Exercise and an active lifestyle are also important measures in fighting some of the serious health conditions listed above. Just don’t let it stop with your free time. Make a conscious effort to introduce these healthy elements in the workplace. It could mean more valuable years with the those who love and depend on you. At the end of the day, isn’t that one of our main reasons to get up each day and go to work?