Sedentary office workers at risk of chronic health conditions
Exercising at the weekend will not protect office workers who sit down for long periods from chronic health conditions, a new study has warned.
The study, published today in the scientific journal Occupational Medicine, warns many people incorrectly assume that keeping active during leisure time will protect them from the danger of sitting for long periods when working in an office.
The researchers asked 222 desk-based workers and 121 managers to rate the healthiness of various combinations of sitting and physical activities during work and leisure time.
They found that if a scenario included being physically active during leisure time, the employee didn’t appreciate the detrimental effect of sitting down for hours at work alongside it.
According to the study, a high level of physical activity does not eliminate the risk from prolonged sitting, yet managers failed to rate uninterrupted sitting as being unhealthy as long as minimum physical activity recommendations outside of work were met.
The researchers have called on managers to promote more physical activity in the workplace.
“Uninterrupted sitting constitutes a substantial risk to physical and mental health,” said study author, Dr Alexander Mussap.
“There are known associations with poor musculoskeletal health, a range of cardiovascular diseases and even cancer.
“There is a common yet incorrect belief that prolonged workplace sitting is not problematic if a person is physically active during their recreational time,” added Dr Mussap.
“The best approach to tackling this issue is the combination of health education about the risks of workplace sitting along with practical strategies for reducing or interrupting workplace sitting.
“This can be as easy as installing timed alerts or sending automated emails to remind people to move around, providing sit-stand workstations that allow workers to adjust their posture throughout the workday and organising fun group breaks where people are invited to stand up and stretch or even dance around!”
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