We’re becoming a nation of couch and work-desk potatoes … slaves to smart technologies and corporate deadlines that are wreaking havoc on our minds and bodies.
And the pandemic certainly has’t helped – with lockdowns throwing regular exercise routines into disarray while seeing many fall into bad habits such as bingeing their favourite shows on Netflix.
Today, whether you work from an office or from home, it’s important to discuss the occupational hazards of working behind a desk and the need for regular exercise.
According to the World Health Organisation, you need 150-300 minutes of moderate intensity
, or 75-150 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity, to counteract sedentary behaviour.
And there’s a good reason why you should find time to get outdoors and active, or even jump on that low-impact stationary bike, because the cost of a sedentary lifestyle is so ridiculously high.
Here’s how prolonged sitting can harm your health:
Anxiety and Depression: Prolonged sitting is proven to have harmful effects on our mental health. A University of Tasmania study of government employees revealed increased rates of moderate depression and anxiety in those who sat for more than six hours a day, compared to those who reported sitting for less than three hours.
- “Inflexible” posture: This isn’t just about being more stiff, but if you lack variety in your daily postures, you will be less versatile with movement. Whist there isn’t necessarily one “perfect” posture, the more ways you sit, stand and move, the better
- Reduced immunity: A weaker body means a weaker immune system, opening up to an increased risk of illness and disease.
- Loss of fitness: It takes just two weeks of inactivity for your cardio health and endurance levels to slip, no matter how well you were doing at the gym
- Premature ageing: Just as aerobic exercise has been shown to reverse the effects of ageing, inactivity has a tendency to speed it up thanks to loss of muscle mass, poor heart health cognitive decline and poor immunity to disease.
- Weight gain: Prolonged inactivity tends to lead to an imbalance of calories consumed versus those expended. Without exercise, those calories aren’t converted to fuel and are stored as fat.
- Obesity: Having a Body Mass Index of over 30 is a risk factor for many diseases and chronic conditions, as well as premature death.
- Chronic fatigue: Fatigue can usually be traced to habits or routines, especially a lack of exercise. It is commonly linked to depression. Sometimes, it is a symptom of other underlying medical conditions.
- Diabetes: Cells in inactive muscles respond badly to insulin. This can result in the pancreas producing more, which can lead to diabetes.
- Slower brain function: The brain is a muscle, which thrives on good blood flow.
- Dementia: Regular exercise can significantly reduce the risk of developing dementia by about 30 per cent.
- Weak muscles: You know that saying “use it, or lose it”? It applies perfectly to muscles, because those that aren’t being challenged daily suffer from stiffness, weakness and are prone to loss of strength and injury.
- Hip and lower back aches: Muscles and joints love to move. Too much sitting and they’ll start crying out to you!
- Varicose veins and Deep Vein Thrombosis: Your veins have to work harder to move blood to your heart when sitting. Over a period of time, this can lead to swelling in your ankles, varicose veins, and even blood clots, also known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
- Osteoporosis: Regular exercise can also slow the rate of bone loss, which reduces the risk of fractures from osteoporosis.
- Chronic pain: The less frequently the muscles in our body are used, the smaller and weaker they become. This decrease in muscle mass and strength can lead to chronic pain in the body.
- Increased risk of cancer: According to the Cancer Council, physical inactivity such as prolonged sitting increases the risk of breast and bowel cancer, and possibly lung, prostate and uterine cancer. Being overweight or obese also increases these risks.
- Heart disease: Sitting for prolonged periods causes blood flow to slow down, which allows fatty acids to build up in the blood vessels. This can lead to heart disease.
- Premature death: Even with a modest increase in physical activity can increase your mortality rate, studies show.
Simple lifestyle changes as a preventative measure can make a world of difference to your health. This includes in the workplace, where many corporate staff sit for long hours working at a computer.
It’s why we’re excited to launch our Take A Stand Against Sitting workplace seminars.
For just $120 (plus GST), an expert Exercise Physiologist from Agility Rehabilitation will come to your workplace to conduct a 45-minute presentation on how you and your staff/colleagues can counteract the debilitating health effects of sitting too long.
To book a Take A Stand Against Sitting seminar for up to 20 staff/colleagues today, please call Naomi on (08) 6162 8145.