Articles

Does your job damage your health?

Does your job damage your health?

Wednesday 6th June 2018
Alex Pedley

Having spent the past 15 years coaching corporate executives I have seen firsthand how demanding the role can be. It is not uncommon to have back-to-back meeting for many hours. This can have a great impact both mentally and physically and even though many high achievers seem like they take it all in their stride, it can and often does lead to the point of burn out.

Quite simply long hours of inactivity, day on day is bad for your health. The world has changed and it is here to stay, but it doesn't change the fact that never before have we spent so much time on our butts, working, watching or reading. Most people know that there are health issues that come with a sedentary lifestyle but how bad is it?

A report by the World Health Organization (WHO) states that being physically inactive comes in fourth as a leading risk factor for death. So what is "physical activity"? WHO defines physical activity as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure - including activities undertaken while working, playing, carrying out household chores, travelling, and engaging in recreational pursuits.

Archives of Internal Medicine found that after taking a sample of 200,000 people into account, there was a clear "association" between spending long periods seated and "all-cause mortality".

Harvard School of Public Health goes even further with their assessment of published scientific studies dating from 1970 all the way to 2011 stating that the data showed a clear correlation between watching TV for more than two hour and a 15% increase in the risk of heart disease and a 20% increase in the chance of getting diabetes. Scary stuff!

So what can you do about it?

The Department of health held a committee, chaired by Professor Stuart Biddle, who reviewed the evidence on sitting for the report, recommended taking "an active break from sitting every 30 minutes". There was not enough evidence to set an exact time but they recommended breaking up long period of sitting with short bout of activity for just 1 to 2 minutes.

A study of 4,757 participants showed that those who took short periods of light activity, even just for 1 minute at a time, could reduce waistline, increase levels of good cholesterol, and even increase insulin resistance.

Moving regularly is the key to improving long term health and simply standing up and walking around will make all the difference. If that wasn't enough, a study by Stanford University showed that walking increased creativity by a wapping 81%.

Recent studies also show that those who give in to some kind of diversion or distraction once an hour perform better than those who just keep at it without a break.

So there it is; every hour stand up and go for a walk for 1 minute. If you are in a meeting, stand and walk around the meeting room and, if others ask what you are doing, get them to join you. The evidence is conclusive, being seated is bad for you, so you must make a commitment to safeguard your health. As we say at MVEMENT, you are your greatest asset, so look at yourself!

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