Make no mistake that modern society’s 9-to-5 office lifestyle is generally not conducive to health and longevity. Most people who work typical desk jobs lead highly sedentary lives and about the most active thing they do throughout the day is walk from their cubicle to the parking lot.
The major risk for office workers is the fact that they sit for the vast majority of the day. Chronically sitting behind a computer is detrimental in a variety of ways, and data seems to indicate it can cut years off one’s life. Moreover, many workplaces totally overlook educating employees about the importance of keeping an active fitness regimen and watching their diet.
So in this article we’ll take a look at the top 5 ways working in an office is cutting years off your life. And don’t worry, some simple remedies will be suggested to help keep you healthy and fit even if you have a typical desk job.
1) Sitting for long periods of time turns off fat-burning enzyme
Research has found that when you sit for an extended period of time, a key fat-burning enzyme in the body called lipase is greatly inhibited. This is a crucial enzyme necessary for splitting apart and breaking down fat, therefore when lipase is inactive the body becomes very efficient at retaining fat tissue; basically, this is the opposite of what most people would ever want.
2) Sitting burns less calories than standing
It may seem rather intuitive, but sitting requires a significantly lower amount of energy than standing does. This is one of the main reasons many health-conscious employees are adamant about using standing desks at work. Technically speaking, most people who sit while working an 8-hour shift burn about 400 calories less than those who stand while working. Over the course of a week that’s an extra 2,800 calories!
3) Sitting for long periods can lead to poor posture
There’s a reason that the chair had to be invented, because it’s simply not a natural position for humans to be in. When you sit for an extended period of time, especially in chairs that don’t have proper lumbar support, you become prone to developing poor posture. Most commonly people will start sagging their shoulders and tilting their head downward without even noticing it. This in turn can lead to spinal curvature and pain in the lower back.
4) Sitting for long periods makes you feel tired/lazy
Coincidentally, sitting all day doesn’t require much energy, but yet it is the main reason many people leave work feeling tired and like they just want to go home and lay on the couch all night. Misery loves company, so don’t give in to the mid-afternoon slump at work; if you can fight through it and take periodic walks around the office you’ll feel much more energetic throughout the rest of the day.
5) Sitting for long periods increases your risk for various diseases
There’s been a significant amount of evidence compiled over the last few decades that suggests those who sit for extended periods of time throughout the day are more prone to cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Interestingly enough, people who live highly sedentary lifestyles are more likely to develop type-2 diabetes and are at much higher risk of heart disease (which is the leading cause of death in the United States).
So what should you do if you work a typical desk job?
Well if you made it this far and are scrambling to figure out how to avoid these five common ramifications of sitting at a desk all day, your best bet is to start by implementing frequent standing/walking breaks from your workstation. Ideally you would take a quick 5-minute walk about every 30-45 minutes of sitting. If that doesn’t help as you would hope, then the next best step would be to invest in a standing workstation so you can keep on your feet while you’re working. Either way, these will definitely help you in the fight to improve your health and longevity. Hopefully you weren’t sitting all day prior to reading this article. Go get on your feet and add years to your life!