Is being at work making you unfit?

Office jobs are often mistakenly described as part of a sedentary lifestyle.

Andrew Dutton: BrightHR Digital Content Manager

Remember when a day at the office meant a heavy dose of manual labor with a large portion of blood, sweat, tears and even sometimes death? Nope, neither do we, luckily.

These days it is much more likely for us to log hour-after-hour with our bums glued to our orthopedic office chairs. It begs the question: what effect is this sedentary lifestyle having on us, and our health? It might not as bad as a day down a colliery, but what is in our comfy modern lives?

There are some disturbing facts associated with our modern marathon sitting sessions: our risk of heart disease has increased by up to 64 percent and it is said we are shaving off seven years from our quality of life.

During the average day to day in the office it is all too easy to pass around those chocolate digestives your boss kindly brought in for that job well done, or to have a cream cake for your colleagues birthday. So is going to work making us unfit?

It’s a fact that 100 years ago the average workplace used to include much more (and often back breaking) physical activity. Now it mostly consists of deathly day-long sitting. Nevertheless, researchers found no correlation between a lack of physical activity within the 8 hour working day and weight gain. However it does affect your fitness greatly. And guess what, this is directly linked to happiness and feeling of wellbeing.

"Regular exercise is clearly linked to improved health both physically and mentally," says Dr. Peter Snell, an exercise physiologist and assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

Snell adds, about 60% of adults do not exercise, and only 25% get the recommended amount of 30 to 60 minutes a day.

Forty percent of adults who don't exercise at all say the reasons are they don't have enough time between balancing a hectic work and family life.

As a result more and more businesses are acknowledging this and building fitness activities into the workplace as a way to help employees stay fit, healthy, happy and engaged. The hope is that this will, in turn, make good business sense, as there are strong links to improved production and reduced absence records.

In recent years our understanding of the relationship between work and health has improved dramatically and outside of taking that 60-minute bums and tums class there are a number of things you can do from your desk to improve your fitness and wellbeing.

Studies have suggested that simply taking short breaks from your seated position which can be as basic as remembering to stand at least once an hour (even if still glued to your desk on that 2pm teleconference). This can alleviate the majority of the ailments associated with prolonged period of sitting.

If you can attend the Insanity fitness class after work, that is just a bonus - and quite frankly you have earned that extra chocolate digestive!

Is employee poor health affecting your business in terms of unplanned absence? Find out how to improve the situation with our free guide