You’ll want to stand up when you read this......
I came across this article in the Globe and Mail a little over a month ago that has been on my mind ever since, mainly because it’s describing me the way I work. I thought I did everything possible to prevent myself from visiting our Healthcare system with some kind of degenerative disease. I eat a very healthy diet, with the odd exception now and then and being a cycling fanatic, I have no problem getting enough exercise. In fact, some might say I exercise too much. I don’t know why I haven’t considered this as a health issue before, but my work style should be taken into consideration, given how many hours a day I put in behind the desk of my home office.
Like so many of us office workers who sit on our butts most of the day and hardly move as we plough through the endless emails, documents, spreadsheets, presentations and conference calls. One has to ask is this type of work style is conducive to a healthy outcome? The article below, which I copied below for you, presents some early conclusions regarding people like me that work in jobs that require sitting behind a desk for the bulk of the day. The early results are worth careful consideration. Sitting for hours at end can increase our chances of developing several types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity and Type II diabetes. And that’s just the beginning, as I’m sure more research in this area will uncover even more facts worth careful consideration.
Since reading this article, I’ve made a couple adjustments to how I approach my work day, given the majority of my work is at a desk in front of a lap top computer. Given that I work at home and may have a little more space and flexibility than those of you that work in an office, you may have to come up with your own plan.
Here are the two things I’ve started doing since reading these studies:
- I purchased a Bluetooth wireless earpiece for my cell phone so I can walk freely around my house when I’m on a conference call. If I don’t have to be in front of my laptop, I walk, and if I need my laptop, I stand whenever I’m on the phone. This is great, because many calls last for at least an hour.
- At the top and bottom of every hour, I walk up and down my stairs a few times, just to raise my heart rate and get the blood flowing throughout my body. Not only does this address the concerns raised in the findings below, I find the movement increases my energy level and alertness.
How we live our lives is always changing and we should be mindful of health consequence brought on by these changes. I know some people will read this post and say, “Enough is enough; will the list of things that are bad for us ever end?” But the good thing about new research is we uncover important information that may make a difference in the quality of our lives. If getting off my butt a couple times an hour will make a positive difference to my long term health; well the decision is pretty simple.
Enjoy the Ride.... Rob
Is Your Office Chair Killing You?
Dave Mcginn, Dec. 05, 2011
You’re going to want to stand up for this. Researchers of sedentary behaviour, a burgeoning field with Canadians at its forefront, are beginning to amass a large body of evidence with one unsettling conclusion: Sitting down is killing us.
For decades, hundreds if not thousands of studies have examined the relationship between our activity levels and our health. Only recently have researchers turned their attention to the consequences of sitting at a desk all day and lying on the couch all evening.
“We’re talking extensively and producing public health messages about what we don’t do. And we don’t talk at all about what we do do: We don’t move very much, but we do sit idle,” says Dr. Mark Tremblay, director of healthy active living and obesity research at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute.
The average person now spends 9.3 hours a day sitting. People who sit for six or more hours per day are 40 per cent more likely to die within 15 years compared to someone who sits less than three hours a day, even if they exercise. Obese people sit 2½ hours more each day than people of normal weight, according to data compiled by Medical Billing and Coding, a U.S.-based organization.
As recently as 2006, there wasn’t much data about this – that’s when a group of Canadian scientists published a commentary calling for research on sedentary behaviour in the Canadian Journal of Public Health. “Research into sedentary behaviour is at an early stage,” they wrote. “We actually know very little about the nature of sedentary behaviour, its dimensions, determinants and relationships to important health outcomes.”
This year marked a huge turning point in the field. Research may still be at an early stage, but scientific interest has reached unprecedented levels. In February, the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology launched its sedentary behaviour guidelines for children and youth, the first systematic evidence-based sedentary behaviour guidelines in the world. The August issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine was dedicated to the theme of sedentary behaviour. The Journal of Applied Physiology, followed suit in October, with a theme issue of its own, highlighting the physiology of sedentary behaviour and physical inactivity. And in September, Dr. Tremblay and his team launched the Sedentary Behaviour Research Network, a first of its kind that has so far connected more than 100 researchers from around the world.
“We realized that there’s this big growing field of research, but we aren’t actually linked by one organization,” says Travis Saunders, one of Dr. Tremblay’s colleagues who helped establish the network. “So many labs are getting into this area that it’s hard to keep track of who’s doing what.”
Studies of sedentary behaviour suggest that sitting for extended periods of time increase a person’s chances of developing a wide range of illnesses and diseases, including several types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity and Type II diabetes.
“It’s definitely an emerging area,” especially in cancer research, says Dr. Christine Friedenreich, senior epidemiologist at Alberta Health Services.
“There have only been 10 studies that have been published on sedentary behaviour and cancer risk, and most of them have only been published in the last one to two years,” she says. Meanwhile there have been more than 200 studies examining the link between physical activity and cancer, most of them published over the last two decades.
In a recently published study, Dr. Friedenreich found that high levels of physical activity reduced the risk of breast and colon cancers by up to 30 per cent, reduced the risk of prostate cancer about 10 to 20 per cent, and reduced the risk of endometrial cancer between 30 and 35 per cent.
The most arguably disquieting results of her study? People who jog for half an hour in the morning and then sit at a desk all day may be no better off than those who don’t go running, even if they are technically meeting the requirements of Canada’s physical activity guidelines, which recommend adults be active for at least 2½ hours a week.
“The big public health message is that people have been thinking they reduce their risk of cancer by doing something like 30 minutes a day of some sort of moderate to vigorous exercise, but that’s not in itself necessarily going to be sufficient,” Dr. Friedenreich says. “We haven’t quite done the research yet to figure out exactly how much you do need to break up your time.”
Such a study is currently being conducted by Australian researchers, one of many studies of sedentary behaviour needed to determine just how dangerous inactivity is to our health. For instance, while Canada was the first country in the world to launch sedentary behaviour guidelines for children, no such guidelines exist for adults, Dr. Tremblay says.
“Over the next 25 years you’ll see a ballooning of this type of research,” he says.
Whatever that research might discover, there is already enough evidence to draw a clear conclusion, says Frank Booth, a professor of biomedical sciences at the University of Missouri. “It’s a lifestyle factor that’s like a bomb on health.”