Doing This at Work is Hurting Your Health

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Doing This at Work is Hurting Your HealthDo you spend the majority of your day sitting at your desk in front of a computer terminal? Is your level of physical activity lower than it should be?

A new report has indicated that sitting for extended periods of time can be a very bad idea if you want to live a long life.

A new study involving 93,000 women has shown that the women who were the most sedentary had a greater risk of dying at an earlier age than females who were much more active. In addition, the study also indicated that women who recorded 11 hours of sitting time per day had a 12% increased risk of dying prematurely. Those women who sat for an average of 11 hours also had a 27% greater chance of dying from coronary artery disease and a 21% increased risk of dying from cancer compared with women who were the most active.

“Even if you don’t sit for 11 straight hours, brief periods of inactivity can add up,” said the study author. “Let’s say you sit at a desk for eight hours—bathroom and lunch breaks included—then sit on the subway for 20 minutes, sit to eat dinner, and lie on the couch for a few hours. That can easily amount to 11 hours of sedentary time.”

In this study, the risk of premature death related to prolonged sitting did not change regardless of levels of physical activity. So even people who regularly went to the gym every day had a similar risk of premature death if their sitting times were similar to the non-active participants!

Prolonged sitting causes muscle loss and a net gain in body fat. Your body becomes much better at fat storage when you are sedentary for extended periods of time and this is when your physiology can start to change. Prolonged sitting can lead to a great tendency to develop insulin resistance, central obesity, and higher levels of inflammation which can cause damage to your heart and blood vessels. The added amounts of body fat can also increase your risk of cancer development.

The strategy is to take frequent but short breaks from your desk. Get up and stretch, go for a brief stroll around the office and take some elastic tubing or small dumbbells to work that you can use at your leisure. You can also use a headset so you don’t have to stand or use a Swiss ball instead of a chair which will force your body to balance itself against gravity. During lunch or bathroom breaks, go outside or take an extended walk around the grounds or inside the office. Despite what people may think, this actually improves employee productivity rather than detracting from it.

“One way to stop feeling guilty about taking breaks is to stop thinking of them as ‘breaks’ and as crucial as any other task,” said the study author.

I completely agree with this statement as prolonged sitting is very bad for your spine and neck, and greatly challenges the circulation from your lower limbs back to your heart.

Making your work place a healthier one is something everyone must participate in, if employee health is at the company forefront.

Sole, E.,“That Thing You Do All Day May Cut Your Life Short,”Yahoo! website;,last accessed Jan. 21, 2014.