A desk job is a fact of life we cannot avoid, yet the statistics indicate that it is killing us and Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) is urging all desk workers to start moving more.
'A percentage of Australians have active jobs, but for many, work means sitting at a desk and staring at a screen. According to research, 68.5% of the Australian workforce is either sedentary or has very low levels of activity," says Alex Lawrence, Exercise & Sports Science Australia spokesperson.
The effects of sitting for more than four hours a day are alarming.
Simply put, being inactive for more than four hours each day can shave two years off a person's life expectancy, increase your risk of death of any cause by 50% and create a 125% increased risk of events associated with cardiovascular disease, such as chest pain (angina) or heart attack.
'Being active at work should also be a concern for employers, by implementing work place health and exercise programs they can improve their bottom line," says Alex.
Research indicates that employees who spend 2.5 hours per week exercising during work hours attain the same or higher productivity levels than their less physically active colleagues.
We can also conclude that by simply having a healthier workforce you can reduce sick leave by 25%, decrease worker's compensation costs by 40% and decrease disability management costs by 24%.
'What is even more frightening is the fact that we know even if you do meet the minimum recommendations of physical activity (e.g. brisk walking or cycling for at least 30 minutes/5 times a week) all this good work could be undone if you sit for prolonged periods of time."
'Ultimately we can say that sitting at our desks is killing us. Plain and simple. We want to encourage all Australians that it is not difficult to change this and start creating a healthier, more active, you," explains Alex.
'Remember, if you have any concerns about a medical or chronic condition it is best to consult with an expert such as an accredited exercise physiologist first."
Alex's Top Five Tips for Being Active at Work:
1. Standing desks – Perhaps it's time to invest in a standing desk. Prices have reduced dramatically and they are now designed for easy installation. Swapping half an hour of sitting for standing shouldn't be too difficult.
2. Walking catch-ups – Let's say goodbye to the stuffy boardrooms. If you need a catch up with colleagues why not take it outside and walk? Research shows that exercise not only improves your health but also your mental capacity, so walk – talk – and make action points when you get back to your desk.
3. Stand up meetings – Instead of chairs around the table, why not stand and talk? I can guarantee that your meetings will be fast and effective!
4. Walking groups – It's great to see so many workplaces encourage sports teams after work, but why not get the gang together for a lunch time or tea break walk. It only needs to be 15 minutes around the block.
5. Set up a challenge – Nothing gets people moving than a good old fashioned challenge. Pedometers are cheap and easy to access so why not grab a few and get a challenge started with your workmates. Whoever gets most steps in the week - wins!
Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) is the peak professional body for exercise and sports science in Australia, ESSA provides national leadership and advocacy on key issues and supports its members and the community through fostering excellence in professional practice, education and training, and research. www.essa.org.au