Adverse Health Effects of Sedentary Work

Nowadays, many work positions involve sitting all day in front of a computer screen.  The average office worker spends about 80,000 hours sitting at their jobs in the course of their working life.  Close to 80% of these employees who work at their computer every day suffer from health problems that may be associated with their sedentary jobs.  Over 60% suffer from tension and pain in the shoulder and neck, and over 50% suffer from back problems.  Another health issue that affects these types of workers are headaches and eye problems from which 45% may suffer.  For these workers, going to work every day can be harmful to their health and affect their quality of life.  Technology, computers, and email have made it unnecessary for us to move around the office for various reasons.  No longer do employees need to hand deliver documents, make copies, or walk over to a co-worker's desk to talk about issues or projects.  

The research found that people who spend 11 hours or more a day sitting are 40% more likely to die within three years than those who sit for less than four hours.  Those who spend between eight and eleven hours a day are 15 percent more likely to die within three years.  Even if sedentary workers exercised after their work day, prolonged sitting can cause the following health problems:

  • Reduced body movements can make muscles more likely to pull, cramp or strain when stretched suddenly.
  • Fatigue in the back and neck muscles by slowing the blood supply and puts high tension on the spine, especially in the low back or neck.
  • Steady compression on the spinal discs that can cause premature degeneration.
  • Gradual deterioration in health if they do not exercise.
  • Problems with blood circulation such as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).
  • Reduced heart and lung efficiency.
  • Digestive problems.
  • Higher risk of metabolic syndrome.
  • Higher blood levels of sugar and fats.
  • Larger waistlines.

Being able to take a five-minute break every hour would be very beneficial for workers.  Ideally, these five minutes could be spent actively walking, moving around, stretching, exercising or even standing.  Another option is a desk that converts to a standing desk so that the worker stands in front of their computer instead of sitting.  Ideally, your office could discuss appropriate activities and schedules to allow for more movement during the workday for sedentary employees.  




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