Chances are, you might be reading this article while seated at your desk in the workplace. Do you feel fatigued and an overall lack of motivation? This is not just the Monday blues kicking in, but a general malaise that seems to come across most deskbound office workers.
Why, you ask? Most white-collared workers have sedentary lifestyles and when they take a seat for extended hours of a day, there are serious health risks that tag along as a result of that. In a recent opinion study done by an Australian university, they realised that three out of four workers saw a connection between their worsening health and the amount of sitting time at work.
The science does back it up as well. Those who plop down on their behinds at work for long hours were at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and reduced life expectancy. To further that point, they even discovered a connection between weight gain, certain forms of cancer, type 2 diabetes and breathing difficulties — all of these just from sitting down at work.
The Science Behind Sitting Down
At this stage in time, scientists are still unable to place their finger on a clear underlying cause that relates a sedentary lifestyle to health complications.
But some scientists believe that sitting for over 30 minutes at a time leads to a reduction in insulin sensitivity. In layman terms, that is when your cells are not taking kindly to the insulin hormone and consequently, your blood sugar level rises to astronomical heights. That in itself leads to a higher risk of heart disease and cancer.
Another suggestion is that sitting for long hours a day actually causes your net caloric expenditure to take a nosedive. As soon as you sit yourself down, your calorie-burning levels drop to 1 per minute. In comparison, if you were to stand, it would add an additional 50 calories to that number.
When your body has an excess of calories, it stores them as triglycerides, a form of fat. When there is a high number of triglycerides, your heart is placed at risk, as these fats would accumulate in the arteries, causing them to be narrower.
What You Can Do
In a bid to do away with their sedentary lifestyle, some people have turned to permanent standing desks to kick the habit of prolonged sitting. While standing desks do nip the problem in the bud, research has suggested that standing for long hours is not all that healthy, as we thought. The physical discomfort kicks in shortly after the two-hour mark and makes it much harder to stay on top of your mounting list of tasks.
If you are pressed for time and rushing to meet a deadline, try to get a couple of minutes of exercise, while you have your mind preoccupied with work. Do a few squats at your cubicle or desk or lift your feet vertically to stretch them. This encourages the burning of calories and a slight bump of your heart rate from your seat.
When you have the time, the best way to break those extended periods of sitting and monotony in the office would be to take short walks. Have a leisurely catch-up with your colleague at the water cooler or make yourself a healthy snack at the pantry. Even a short walk to your colleague’s desk to ask a question is a recommended alternative to sending a virtual message over.
It might seem odd at first to implement these habits, but all our habits start from somewhere and it takes time to get into the rhythm of things.
Be In the Driver’s Seat Of Your Own Life
Until the 20th century, the human population spent most of their lives on their feet, either tending to their crops, trading their wares at the market or hunting down a prey for food. When technology was brought in to make our lives easier and to keep the world connected and accessible, we inadvertently began sitting down more and more each day.
A sedentary lifestyle presents a real problem, since most office workers spend over 9 hours a day sitting in their office and they are unable to get out of that cycle, due to office culture or maintaining the expectations of an employee. But with our bodies starting to show signs of deterioration, perhaps, it is time to have a seat with your boss and introduce suggestions that would benefit the office as a whole.
You can’t fault the logic that a healthy team is a more productive team.