Sitting not so pretty: The negative effects of too much desk time
A numb left butt cheek. A stiff neck. Lower back pain. Sitting at a desk all day takes its toll on the body. Even more so if you don’t have one of those impressively ergonomic chairs with foamy bits in all the right places. And the office environment often doesn’t support non-desk work. Floor space constraints, the nature of sitting meetings and even taking your lunch break often mean you’re sitting for 7 and a half hours of an eight hour workday. So, lets chat facts and see just what a sedentary work life does to the temple that is your body.
Prolonged periods of no movement are recognised as one of the main causes of preventable premature mortality
Yikes. But before we all start frantically doing jumping jacks at our desks, let’s focus on the word prolonged. We’re talking non-stop, never-get-your-booty moving sitting (for a long time, like years). But, it’s good to remember that long periods of sedentary behaviour can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, some cancers and obesity. Who would’ve thought that something as engrained as grinding at your desk each day could have such an adverse impact on your health?
But all is not lost, a bit of movement can move your health in the right direction
There are stats out there suggesting that a little moving and grooving that breaks up your sedentary time is positively associated with your metabolic health. The most common ‘moves’ recorded in a study done on office workers in the UK involved walking to the bathroom and standing at other locations in the same office environment like a colleague’s desk; but that hardly shakes things up in the metabolic activity department. Because of this, and the fact that the office is where the bulk of sitting on your derrière takes place, the workplace has been identified as a key setting in which to reduce adults’ sitting time to improve health.
So what can you do to say sayonara to being sedentary at the office?
Standard occupational health and safety guidelines recommend transitioning posture (e.g. from sitting to standing) at least every 30 minutes. But normal office life doesn’t necessarily work in such neat half-hour increments, unless… You may or may not have heard of the Pomodoro Technique which advocates breaking your productivity time into dedicated 25-minute intervals (in which you complete a specific task) and then taking a short break after the 25 minutes are up. We hope you see where we’re going with this?
Pomodoro Technique + transitioning your posture during your break = less sedentary time (and improved health).
This is just one suggestion that helps you get the best of both worlds – staying productive and staying active, but there are others. A personal favourite of ours is doing squats while you’re waiting for the microwave to reheat that sumptuous left-over spaghetti in the office kitchen. If moving around isn’t really possible, try these exercises at your desk.
Into the future, companies are going to need to cater for more active workers especially when it comes to how well their physical office space supports this i.e. outdoor areas, corridors bigger than shoulder width etc. After all, increasing your employees’ physical at-work activity not only benefits their overall health but also decreases the amount of sick leave taken due to diseases or injuries.
At Office & Co. our workspaces support movement. From stairs to varied workspace settings and private phone booths, there are places to go to be productive on top of improving your metabolic activity. Our Kyalami office space in Joburg even boasts a gym to really break through that sedentary slump. Get in touch with us to explore our affordable, functional office spaces in Joburg and Cape Town today.
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