So, you think you’re fit? No matter how fit you consider yourself to be, sedentary behaviours increase the risk of serious health conditions and can be experienced by all. These include an increased risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, increases in posture-related musculoskeletal conditions and poor restorative sleep patterns. In short, a myriad of physical and mental health concerns.
Physical inactivity has been flagged as a leading risk factor for global mortality. Given that the majority of office based roles are becoming more sedentary; i.e. in a seated position, this poses a problem to millennials who will spend the next 40+ years in these types of jobs.
As well as the precursor to these conditions, there are the common symptoms associated with sitting for up to 60-90 minutes at a time, such as headache, muscle aches and pains and a heightened perception of the symptoms associated with mental fatigue and stress. It is common to also be unable to focus as well and cognition can also suffer. This is generally known as work presenteeism, previously covered in a separate article on this blog, where employees are present at work but do not function to their full capabilities displaying decreased productivity and engagement.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. There are very simple steps that can be taken to minimise these effects. The easiest and most important things to do are to take regular breaks and increase your movement at work:
- The 20-20-20 Rule: Every 20 minutes, look away from your screen for 20 seconds at something 20 yards away.
- The 30 Minute Rule: For every minute block, sit for 20 minutes, stand for 8 minutes and walk around for 2 minutes.
- Incorporate 10 minutes of mental and physical activity into every 2 hours worked.
- Incorporate movement into workplace tasks i.e. set out your office so that you have to get up and walk to the printer.
- Have some of your departmental meetings standing up or walking around.
Increased activity not only counters the adverse health effects of a sedentary lifestyle, it promotes focus, concentration and improves cognition.
So move around, have a stretch. Stand, and deliver.
Chris Sanders is a Data and Management Analyst based in the South East of England. He has previously worked in the telecoms industry and currently analyses data for a leading UK University. He blogs about data analysis, management practices, and the modern workplace.
Find Chris on LinkedIn here