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How Does Sitting In Front Of A Desk Affect Your Health?

Posted in General Health 27 Mar, 2015

A new campaign has been launched by 'On Your Feet Britain' to get office workers mobile. The group state that staying in the same position for long periods of time can lead to a whole host of health issues, which no amount of hard work at the gym can undo.

Health experts have long claimed that inactivity can lead to conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. What is particularly alarming for the millions of office workers in the UK is that this trend applies to all people, even those who live an otherwise healthy lifestyle.

Let's take a quick look at the science behind this. Health experts claim that sitting down for long periods of time can dramatically slow down the body's metabolism, which impacts blood sugar levels and the processing of fat. Subsequently, the potential risk of diabetes and heart disease is increased.

So what groups are most at risk? A survey by the BHF found that almost 50% of people spend less than 30 minutes a day on their feet at work. Furthermore, over half the people surveyed admitted to regularly eating lunch at their desk. It is these behavioural patterns that the BHF highlighted as a particular cause of concern.

The researchers mentioned a number of simple things that office workers could employ to try and minimise their risk. These include lunching away from your desk, taking the stairs instead of the lift, walking to your colleague's desk rather than emailing and going out for a quick stand up break every hour or so.

The concept on inactivity being a 'silent killer' is not new. In a previous study published in the 'American Journal of Clinical Nutrition', lead researcher Professor Ulf Ekelund stated that 'the greatest risk of premature death was in those classed as inactive, and that was consistent in normal weight, overweight and obese people.'

The studies highlight the fact that inactivity plagues both the home and work life of millions of people in the UK. Whilst sitting for long periods of time may be unavoidable, the advice from experts is that even the smallest increase in activity levels can make a difference. So, as well as a gym routine, care must be taken to ensure that long periods of 'sedentary' behaviour in the work place are broken up.

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