According to a major study published in July, office workers must exercise for one hour a day to combat the deadly risk of modern working lifestyles. The research found that premature death is 60 per cent more likely for anyone sitting at their desk for more than 8 hours a day.
This means that sedentary lifestyles are a bigger threat than smoking or obesity and it was advised to do an hour’s exercise each day in order to combat this – although more than a third of men and women don’t do that.
How can employers help you at work?
With many people commuting and working 9-5, there can be little chance of avoiding being seated most of the day. However, there are things that can be done to counter these issues. In the research, it was suggested that showers and gyms could be added to breaks in the working day to encourage a more active lifestyle.
Alternative options included longer breaks so people could go to the gym or enjoy a brisk walk at lunchtime. One of the biggest developments over the last few years has been the sit-stand desk, where you can break up standing and sitting during the day.
From alleviating back pain to reducing the risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, the benefits are plenty. Another study found that even when all workers have the same job and schedule, there are people who take the opportunity to move around, and others that don’t. Even just standing for a few hours means your body works better.
Steps you can take to improve your health whilst at the office
It is advised for productivity as well as health, that you should take regular breaks (like five minutes each hour) from work. There are a number of different techniques – like Pomodoro – that can be done to achieve this and small steps like a walk to a co-worker in the next office, a trip to the coffee machine or collecting something from the printer can be the start to a healthier office life.
Start with the basics today:
- Park further away from work – instinct tells you to park as close as possible but give yourself a few extra steps to reach a destination
- Take the stairs – pass up on the lift to go up a couple of floors and get some exercise using the stairs
- Walk or bike to work – if you live fairly close, why not consider a more active route to the office?
- Walk breaks – try to use part of your lunch for a 15 to 20-minute walk. Not only does it help physically but you’ll feel fresher mentally
- Be active outside the office – like to have a Saturday morning coffee with your partner? Why not change that to a light walk
- Office yoga - Try out some yoga moves you can do at your desk for a quick stretch
Can the government do anything to help?
In both Brazil and Colombia – and trialled in Cambridge – bus stops have been moved further apart in order to get people to walk further between them. Other ideas include building public gyms with free classes, closing streets to cars allowing for walking or cyclists at weekends and making schools have a least three hours of physical education each week.