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Is office work killing you? Workout to beat the dangers of being desk-bound.

Published 02 August 2016

Pay attention to every survey with a health warning and you will be afraid to do many things – and you can now add going to work and sitting at a desk to that list. New research has found that sitting for at least eight hours a day could increase the risk of premature death by up to 60 per cent (1).

It is unclear from the study why long periods of sitting at a desk can be perilous, but if it is combined with inactivity it can dangerous (1).

Employers are now being encouraged to make it easier for workers to take more exercise.

It is thought that working demanding hours now makes it more difficult for office-based workers to get up and move around (2).

The study by medical journal Lancet involved more than one million adults, mainly aged over 45, from across the world and resulted in experts urging office workers to review their working routine (3).

The advice encourages employees to get up every five minutes and stretch their legs, which can include walking to the next office, walking upstairs or walking to get a drink.  It adds that workers should also aim to exercise for one hour a day, which can include taking a brisk walk (1–3).

Many employers now actively promote health and wellness, which can help to boost productivity and lead to cost savings by the whole business.

Employers will be aware that physical inactivity increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and mental health problems, resulting in employees needing to take time off work (4). Staff ill health can have cost implications for any business.

There are a number of ways in which employers can play their part and encourage healthier habits and increased levels of physical activity and this includes:

  • Providing staff with information on the benefits of physical activity and asking them what types of activities they would be interested in participating in.
  • Encourage staff to take part in local and national events such as sponsored walks and fun runs.
  • Arranging away days that involve some form of physical activity that most staff could do such as guided walks.
  • Encouraging those employees who are able to, to walk, cycle or jog part of or the entire journey into work and provide travel plans and secure places to leave bikes.

References:

  1. Office workers must exercise for an hour a day to counter death risk [Internet]. [cited 2016 Aug 2]. Available from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/07/27/office-workers-must-exercise-for-an-hour-a-day-to-counter-death/
  2. The Lancet: One hour of physical activity per day could offset health risk of 8 hours of sitting [Internet]. EurekAlert! [cited 2016 Aug 2]. Available from: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/tl-tlo072616.php
  3. Siddique H. One hour of activity needed to offset harmful effects of sitting at a desk. The Guardian [Internet]. 2016 Jul 27 [cited 2016 Aug 2]; Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/jul/27/health-risk-one-hour-activity-offset-eight-hours-sitting-desk
  4. Siddique H. Office employees should be on feet for four hours of working day, study says. The Guardian [Internet]. 2015 Jun 1 [cited 2016 Aug 2]; Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jun/01/office-workers-on-feet-standing-fours-hours-day-study-health

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