Working in an office is fabulous for comfort, but pretty awful for the waistline. Comfy office chairs are great things, but the more time we spend in the chair, the shorter our lifespan according to numerous studies on the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
A huge portion of adults will spend a minimum of five hours sitting down , and shockingly, some people will spend over 14 hours of the day sitting down (Source). This might seem completely fine, but the studies that revealed this information also show eye-opening figures suggesting all that cuddle time between your bottom and your chair could have truly detrimental effects on your health in the long term. It’s also pretty horrendous for the economy, with over 7 million working days being lost every year in the UK because of musculoskeletal disorders (caused by a sedentary lifestyle).
It’s quite easy to see the link between obesity and sitting down, but if you look a little deeper into those facts, what does obesity mean for not only our quality of life, but for our life expectancy. Obesity puts us at risk of:
- Musculoskeletal conditions
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
And according to another study (BMJ Open) if we spend just 3 hours rather than 5 sitting down we could add another 2 wonderful years onto our lifespan (source). 2 whole years of extra living just by moving a little more every day.
Is The Swivel Chair Completely To Blame?
No, it really isn’t. It’s actually bad for us to be in any one position for a sustained amount of time. Standing up for too long can be just as bad for us. In the same way sitting down decreases our circulatory speed, and slows down vital supplies of oxygen to different parts of our body, standing up for too long does the same thing.
So How Do We Avoid The Sedentary Lifestyle Of An Office Worker?
It’s quite simple really, you need to get really creative and ready to put some effort into moving around as much as you possibly can. Treadmill desks are definitely a ‘thing’ now with many super modern offices now offering treadmill desk areas for employees to work on throughout the day.
How about standing up when someone rings your phone? Or delivering information in person to other people in the office rather than messaging or emailing it across?
Then there’s your daily meetings – why not ban chairs? Of course lunch breaks are a brilliant opportunity for movement, the perfect time to get some fresh air and take a walk.
These are all easy ways to increase how much you move without pushing you to exert yourself much at all. One of the easiest ways to keep an eye on your movement is by getting a pedometer app on your phone. Look to walk around 10,000 steps a day compared to a sedentary step count of around 1,000 to 3,000 steps. This should be throughout your day, so you might need to walk to work and add some exercise into your daily routine as well. But remember you spend 7, 8, or 9 hours plus at the office – that’s a lot of time to be adding to your daily step count.
Try these easy solutions to avoid a sedentary lifestyle:
- Get off the train to work a stop earlier
- Cycle or walk to work
- Walk on your lunchbreak
- Take a yoga class or gym session after work
- Take the stairs instead of the lift
- Use a treadmill desk at work or at home
- Suggest healthy changes at work like stand up meetings
All it takes is a commitment and creativity to keep you active, healthy and living longer. Don’t think that because you work in an office you have to fall into the sedentary lifestyle trap – you don’t. You can be as active as you want, wherever you are.