Your Desk Job Isn’t Doing You Any Health Favors

Staying active is so imperative to overall health, so much so that many healthy living spaces and medical establishments continually vocalize how vital it is. For this reason, it isn’t surprising that more data is being released regarding how having a desk job and living a mostly sedentary lifestyle can be catastrophic for your waistline and your health.

Those who typically have less risk factors for serious health conditions such as heart disease tend to walk at least seven miles per day or spend upwards of seven hours on their feet. The correlation here is that how you use and move your body directly affects the health factors within.

Dr. William Tigbe, from the Warwick Medical School, led research regarding how bad excessive sitting is for our waistline, and subsequently, our health. For people who have desk jobs, their waists are typically bigger and their risk for heart disease is also increased.

The Findings

The research looked at over 100 postal workers who were given activity monitors. Half of the workers worked in the office while the other half delivered the mail. There were huge differences between the two groups that were found. Firstly, the office workers had a bigger average waist circumference. Their risk for cardiovascular disease was also 2.2% higher than those who were constantly walking throughout the duration of their shift.

With each hour of sitting – up to around five hours – the bad cholesterol – also known as LDL – increased. The good cholesterol – (HDL) – decreased. Most shifts are anywhere from 6 to 8 hours so this is definitely an issue to one’s health.

“Longer time spent in sedentary posture is significantly associated with larger waist circumference, higher triglycerides – fat in the blood – and lower HDL cholesterol, all adding up to a worse risk of heart disease,” Tigbe says. “The levels associated with zero risk factors were walking more than 15,000 steps per day, which is equivalent to walking seven to eight miles, or spending seven hours per day upright. Our findings could be used as the basis of new public health targets for sitting, lying, standing and stepping to avoid metabolic risks.”

Increasing Physical Activity

There is an irrefutable link to health and physical activity. This has long been discussed, tested and confirmed in the scientific and medical community. Scientists explain that our biological evolutionary purpose did not account for our bodies being stagnant and sitting down for copious amounts of time each day. The hunters and gatherers spent a good portion of the day on their feet and we’re probably more biologically inclined to do that than we are – with us being largely inactive as we type away at a keyboard for hours and hours.

This is why being active despite having a sedentary job is so crucial. Those who have desk jobs really need to be mindful of incorporating enough standing and walking into their day despite being tied to their desk for their work.

There are a couple of ways to incorporate additional steps or upright movement. Get a headset and take some of your calls standing at your desk if you can. Make a commitment to use the stairs when you are coming to and from work. Do a full body stretch and a few squats every time you get up to go to the bathroom. The importance of how even the little things can increase your physical activity thus positively affecting your health cannot be overstated.

Even Minimal Physical Activity Can Thwart Disease

You’ve likely heard the importance of being active and exercising to promote overall physical health. The state of the body is directly connected to a few things, one of which being how active the body is. A recent study, conducted on over 60,000 adult participants showed that even minimal physical activities make a huge difference for the body. Physical activity thwarts the likelihood of issues like cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Physical Activity Study

The primary reason for the study was to see if less frequent instances of activity could still make a difference. In the cases of many individuals, sometimes adhering to a strict and habitual schedule can be difficult for those who lead a busy life. Sometimes incorporating workouts can be time consuming and simply not feasible depending on the person. It was discovered that despite former claims of almost excessive exercise, that physical activity only once or twice a week also makes a huge difference in a person’s health. “Just one or two occasions of physical activity per week is associated with a lower risk of death,” senior author, Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis, explained.

The study does also go on to say that exceeding the minimum recommendation can also be helpful to both the cardiovascular system as well as the nervous system. The World Health Organization recommends adults get at least 150 minutes per week of some type of moderately difficult physical activity. The other option, in lieu of that recommendation, is at least 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity. The best option really depends on the type of time you can allot for your own physical fitness, but making it a bit of a priority is definitely the way to go. If you don’t have your health, you have very little.

Weekend Warriors

There is a term for those who get only one to two days of physical activity. “Weekend warriors” are what they are dubbed because this is where the predominance of their free time is. During the week they typically don’t have enough time to devote to getting exercise. Those with incredibly busy lifestyles sometimes struggle to get in the amount of physical activity they think they need. This leaves time on the weekends where they can maybe take an aerobics class, go for a bike ride or try a new hiking trail they’ve been hearing about.

Various studies are still trying to figure out what the overall best weekly dose of physical exercise coupled with frequency is. This can be specific depending on the person, their health status, previous health issues, genetics and so on. Real overt vigorous exercise can’t be tolerated well by certain people. This is why the more gentle types of physical activity are generally better for various reasons. They are less likely to result in injury and more likely to be easily incorporated into life at a semi-consistent rate. When a person doesn’t feel personally pressured to work out every single day, on the days where they do, they’ll feel better, give their all and generally perform better in the long run. It’s good to ease yourself into a physical activity, especially if you have a pre-existing health condition or are older. Make sure to consult your doctor.

Don’t feel like you must push your body to the edge in order to improve your health and ward off disease.