12 hour workdays behind the desk can do more than strain your eyesight and heighten stress levels. Multiple studies, from the American Cancer Society and others all found that a sedentary desk job (i.e. what a growing portion of American workers have) is linked to back pain, repetitive stress injuries, obesity, and even increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics evaluated the relationship between physical activity and obesity in the workplace, according to MSN Health. In 1960, nearly half the jobs in the private sector required at least moderate physical activity. In 2010, less than 20% demanded this much physical work. Part of this phenomenon can be explained by advances in manufacturing and agriculture, and the rise of technology industries which require much less human physical labor. This change in energy expenditures has led to a decrease in the number of calories burned as well.
Mashable recently created an infographic detailing the dangers of your desk job. When you’re sitting down at your computer, immobile muscles gradually lose the ability to metabolize fats and sugar as efficiently as they should. The electrical activity in your legs shuts off, and fat-reducing enzymes drop by 90%. Calorie burning slows to 1 calorie per minute and people who sit down all day have twice the rate of cardiovascular disease than people who stand.
Some companies are combating this head on with walking treadmill desks and switching out desk chairs with exercise balls. The point? Get moving. Step away from your desk for a moment. Stand and stretch a few times a day, or go for a walk around the block. Stay active after work. Avoid the TV and take a walk with friends, or join a sports league. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Get up to refill your water bottle. If you have to talk to a coworker, walk down the hall instead of shooting them an email.
The growing importance of wellness programs reflects this dynamic. Employers are helping employees work harder at staying healthy and manage chronic diseases more effectively, so that they and the company benefit from lower health costs and reduced absences. Sinclair Risk & Financial Management is at the forefront of this approach, providing employers with a proprietary Wellness Program designed to promote healthy employee lifestyle choices along with a strategy to create and sustain these behaviors. Contact us today for more information.
Additional sources: CNN.com