Your desk job may be shortening your life. But it’s not the water cooler gossip that is slowly sucking the life out of you. It’s that seat and the amount of time you spend sitting in it.
There has been a huge amount of research over the last few years about the life shortening impact of being sedentary, with some people spending up to 13 hours a day in their chair in homes and offices.
One of the most interesting points to come out more recently is that the amount of time spent sitting can influence our health even if we are active at other times. In other words, a workout at the end of a day which was spent in front of your computer, or at a desk, may not be enough to counteract the damage being seated all day is causing.
Studies show that the lowest risk is for those who are physically active and don’t sit, with the highest risk saved for those who don’t do any physical activity, and sit for much of the day.
Even moderate activity, or time spent standing or gently moving about at regular intervals can counteract the negative effects. Taking breaks and actively stretching will improve your health.
So what is the specific issue around being seated?
– When we sit, relaxing on the couch or in a slouched position, our muscles aren’t doing much work.
– When we move we pump oxygen to our brain which keeps us alert.
– When we are sedentary for a long time, everything slows, including brain function.
– With a crouched over posture and lack of movement our organs are cramped and function is slowed.
Constipation and reduced insulin response are a couple of the unwelcome side effects.
The way we live and work, the convenience of cars, and the many electronic devices and stationary entertainment sources such as TV and gaming has meant for many adults and children sitting has become the default setting for life.
What does this mean for the average person who works in an office 9 to 5 and is unable to get out and about throughout the day?
What about the ‘active couch potato’ who spends much of their life seated, but squeezes in some exercise for the recommended 30 minutes most days?
The health benefits of working out are not in question, and a regular workout is having a positive impact on your life, your health and your wellbeing.
However, in order to maximise those health benefits, you need a more active approach to the other 23 hours of the day.
Exercise professionals are recommending a lifestyle approach to health and exercise more and more.
This means integrating activity into what you do throughout your life as well as the regular structured workout at the gym, park or with your trainer.
It doesn’t have to be 100 push-ups at your desk every time the phone rings, or running up 10 flights of stairs every time you need a toilet break, as there are some simple ways you can add movement into all parts of your day.
The risks are clear, but the benefits of making some simple changes are easily achieved. So why not add more activity into your working day, which can in turn add more days to your life.
Article by REPS. NZ Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) is an independent not for profit quality mark of exercise professionals and facilities. Using REPs Registered Exercise Professionals is the “warrant of fitness check” that exercise professionals and facilities meet New Zealand and internationally benchmarked standards to deliver safe exercise advice and instruction.