Is your desk job killing you… 10 tips for physical activity in the workplace

We’ve been talking a lot lately about health and well-being in the office, so when we came across this blog from System Concepts, we just had to share it!

Did you know that sitting at a desk for eight hours a day can increase your risk of premature death by up to 60%, (worryingly, it is estimated that lack of physical activity is responsible for 5 million deaths globally, each year) as recent research published in the Lancet highlighted.

The research is based on a review of more than 1 million people from 16 different studies, and should be required reading for everyone involved in employee well-being and organisational health and safety.

It shows that increased time sitting is a major risk factor for morbidity (predominantly heart disease and cancer) as well as premature mortality.   In the research, mortality rates among those who sat for at least eight hours a day and managed less than five minutes’ activity were 9.9%. This compares with a mortality rate of 6.2% among those who spent just as long seated, but who managed around 60 minutes’ of activity per day.

Researchers concluded that 60-75 minutes of medium intensity physical activity per day seems to eliminate the increased risk of death associated with high sitting time.

So if you have a desk job and can’t avoid long periods of sitting each day, here are 10 tips for physical activity at work that will help you to stay safe.

  1. Use your commute to do some extra walking. Park several roads away, or get off the bus a few stops early.
  2. Use the stairs instead of the lift.
  3. Go to speak to a colleague in person rather than emailing or phoning them.
  4. Suggest holding meetings with colleagues during a walk inside or outside the building.
  5. Exercise during your breaks, e.g. visit the gym at lunchtime or take a quick walk during your morning/afternoon coffee break.
  6. Plan your day to break up long spells of working on your computer with tasks requiring movement, e.g. printing, filing etc.
  7. Drink plenty of water. Sipping water thought the day will mean more trips to the bathroom.
  8. Go the extra distance when possible: get your coffee/water on another floor (use the stairs) or use the toilets that are the farthest from your desk.
  9. Stand while talking on the telephone, and do a few stretches.
  10. Organise the layout of your office space in such a way that you have to stand up to reach often-used files or your printer, rather than having everything within easy reach.

Thanks to System Concepts for this great blog, just what we wanted to say!

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