Could modern office life be having a detrimental impact on our health? A recent study published in medical journal The Lancet warns that working in an office could be as dangerous to our health as smoking.
According to the study, sitting at a desk 8 hours a day can increase the risk of premature death by 60%. However, those who take part in physical exercise can counteract this risk. The NHS recommend that we take part in 150 minutes (30 minutes, 5 days) of moderate aerobic exercise per week, whether it is walking the dog, a jog round the park or cycling to work.
The Lancet study states the cost of an inactive workforce in terms of healthcare and productivity is estimated at $67.5 billion globally. Inactivity has been linked to 5.3 million deaths a year worldwide, whilst 5.1 million are due to smoking.
Sitting Down Is the Greatest Health Risk
In our previous article, Do You Work Through Your Lunch Break? we spoke of how pressurised workplace cultures can make some employees feel that they cannot take a break away from their desk. Sitting combined with inactivity carries the greatest risk to health.
Professor Ulf Ekelund from the Norwegian School of Sports Science and the University of Cambridge was in charge of this recent study. He suggests an hour of exercise per day rather the than the 30 minutes recommended by the NHS.
“For many people who commute to work and have office-based jobs, there is no way to escape sitting for prolonged periods of time,” he said.
“For these people in particular, we cannot stress enough the importance of getting exercise, whether it’s getting out for a walk at lunchtime, going for a run in the morning or cycling to work. An hour of physical activity per day is the ideal, but if this is unmanageable, then at least doing some exercise each day can help reduce the risk.”
Changing Your Bad Office Life Habits
As the Rio Olympics are now in full swing, there is no better time to make changes to your bad working day habits. No doubt, many of us have been inspired by the performances of these incredible athletes as we are glued to the TV screen on the sofa.
Whilst a sub 10 second 100 metres is beyond us, small changes can make a big difference. For more information on how you can make healthy lifestyle choices, the NHS Change 4 Life website is a good place to start, to get you active and healthy.