Work. Some people define themselves by their occupation or profession, others see it as a means to an end. Regardless of how we view our work, it’s a simple word that forms a significant part of our life. As Australians we spend a lot of time at our job with most full time employment requiring at least 38 hours per week. Obviously, there are a plethora of tasks required for us to complete within our scope of work that can have a positive or negative impact on our health. For today, we’ll focus on office workers and the corporate sector. There’s no denying this part of our workforce requires a lot effort, it just may not be physically. For many, a day includes sitting down in a car or public transport, getting to a desk and sitting for the next 8 hours, then returning home and sitting on the couch in front of the TV. This is a typical sedentary lifestyle and this amount of sitting is very concerning.
A recent study suggests sitting for at least 8 hours a day can increase the risk of premature death by up to 60%! It seems the modern working life can be killing us. Delving deeper, prolonged sitting is associated with a range of health problems including musculoskeletal disorders (poor posture from slouching and repetitive tasks), diabetes, obesity, poor mental health and high mental fatigue due to low energy expenditure and insufficient muscle activity. Not to mention poor productivity and presenteeism!
So, what can we do? Simply, increase how much you move! When it comes to addressing occupational sitting exposure, your mantra should be ‘reduce and interrupt’. This could mean walking meetings, taking frequent 5-minute breaks to stretch, standing to read a document or whilst on the phone and talking to colleagues rather than emailing. Many workplaces are adopting the sit to stand desk which also helps with blood flow and muscle activation. This combined with an ergonomically sound work station can reduce one’s risk of developing a musculoskeletal condition. More significantly however, the best remedy is to find more exercise. Those who can’t exercise before or after work should try to get out for lunch. Exercise with colleagues is a popular way to get out of the office at lunch and keep motivation high! Furthermore, many corporate buildings have gyms that run lunch time group fitness classes which provide a combination of resistance and aerobic exercises. A well-tailored exercise program can address postural deficiencies whilst significantly increasing energy, leading to a boost in productivity when you return to work.
At Absolute Balance, we specialise in corporate health running multiple corporate gyms around Perth including Newspaper House, Forrest Centre, Central Park, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Fiona Stanley Hospital and Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety. We’re invested in all things exercise and health. Our Accredited Exercise Physiologist’s can attend your workplace and set up a workstation to comply with ergonomic standards, or simply prescribe an exercise program to aid any postural issues you may have. Our services are wide ranging so come and see us anytime – we may even be running the gym in your building right now.
Ed Daccache, B.Ex.SpSc, Grad.Dip.Ex.Sc (AEP, AES) (ESSAM)
Accredited Exercise Physiologist
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). (2017, October 23). Census reveals insights into Australia’s labour force. Retrieved from http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/MediaRealesesByCatalogue/7E56B97A3FEF932ACA2581BF00364712?OpenDocument
Department of Health. (2017, November 21). Research and statistics regarding physical activity and sedentary behaviour. Retrieved from http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/health-pubhlth-strateg-active-evidence.htm
Safe Work Australia. (2017, October 17). Sitting and Standing. Retrieved from https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sedentary