Why Your Job Could Be Killing You – and What to Do About It
Do you work in a dangerous job? If you spend your days sitting at a desk, you might think not – but the answer is actually yes. As various studies have shown, the prolonged inactivity that comes with modern office work is seriously damaging our health, increasing our risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
Just a few generations ago, most jobs involved physical labour. Our ancestors toiled in factories, fields, and mines. They were active by default. While the conditions of work have clearly progressed since those days, there is one glaring problem – we simply aren’t meant to be sedentary for eight hours a day.
Yet that’s how most of us spend our working lives. According to a report by Ergotron, a manufacturer of standing desks, 86% of American workers spend all day sitting – despite the fact that 70% hate doing so!
So, what are we to do?
Modern work requires us to sit and stare at screens for hours on end – but we can’t all quit our jobs and retrain as dance instructors. Thankfully, there is another way. With a bit of effort, creativity, and an open mind, it is possible to have a desk job and be physically active. Here are some examples to get you moving.
- Walk or cycle to work
While this isn’t possible for everyone, some of us live close enough to get to work under our own steam. By walking or cycling to the office, you bookend the day with physical exertion. It’s also a great way to clear the head and boost energy.
For those whose commute makes this impossible, there are still options. You could get off the bus a couple of stops early, or park your car a 30-minute walk from the workplace.
- Make the most of your lunchbreak
Whether you take 30 minutes or an hour, your lunch break is the perfect opportunity to get moving. Instead of sitting in the canteen, why not go for a brisk walk instead? This, combined with some walking to and from work, could potentially double your step count for the day.
- Take walking meetings
Meetings represent an opportunity to get away from the desk and screen, but we often end up sitting in a stuffy meeting room instead. Granted, indoor meetings are sometimes a necessity – you can’t exactly take the projector outside – but smaller, more informal meetings can be done elsewhere.
Next time you have a one-to-one check-in or team meeting, why not head outside and get moving? If that isn’t possible, you can take the meeting standing up. Not only is this healthier, it also makes the process more dynamic and energetic – and the meeting often ends up being shorter!
- Offer exercise classes at work
Employers are responsible for ensuring the wellbeing of their employees, and that means finding new ways for them to be active at work. A great way to do this is through organised exercise classes.
Whether it’s aerobics, yoga, or Pilates, having something planned in the diary is often the best way to ensure people get moving. This is a perk that benefits everyone – exercise is proven to improve mental wellbeing, resulting in a more positive, focussed, and energised workforce.
- Use a standing desk
Having a desk job doesn’t mean you have to sit all day. Many organisations now offer standing desks as a healthier alternative, allowing employees to spend more time on their feet. And like standing meetings, this helps to shake off fatigue, improves blood flow, and boosts energy.
In addition to standing desks, there are other alternatives to the traditional office chair. Why not try sitting on an exercise ball, which forces you to engage your back muscles and improves your posture, or even a ‘cycle desk’ – an office desk and exercise bike in one.
- Use technology
These days, wearable devices can measure an array of physical parameters – everything from steps walked to calories burned. This data gives us a clearer picture of how active we are. And with the ability to visualise progress and goals, it provides an extra level of motivation.
Employers could encourage their staff to move by providing them with fitness trackers. They could then incentivise regular exercise by providing meal vouchers or other discounts to those who achieve step targets. Of course, this would have to be something that employees opt in to rather than a compulsory measure.
- Take regular breaks
If you have no option but to spend most of your day sitting at a regular desk, it’s important that you take regular breaks – not only to stretch and move but to give your eyes a rest from the screen. Really, you shouldn’t be sitting at your desk for more than a couple of hours at a time.
Time to get moving
Let’s be honest, despite its sedentary nature, modern work can sometimes feel like an endurance test. In a strange way, sitting still for hours can be physically exhausting. It’s also bad for our long-term health.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. By following the ideas above, you can stay productive and active at the same time. Not only will this benefit your long-term health, but you’ll also be happier, more focussed, and more productive too.