Today, advances in technology have transformed the way we learn, communicate, shop and travel. At the same time, technology has transformed the way we work – it has brought about more desk jobs and increased the number of hours we spend on laptops and mobiles. Leading a sedentary lifestyle has become the new normal. This is more dangerous than we can imagine, as it increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer. Inactivity is today responsible for more deaths than smoking.
Are you a ‘Homo Seden’ (the seated man)?
Human bodies were designed for active hunting and gathering, but today we sit at the dining table, in transport, at work and even while relaxing at home – altogether about 90% of our waking time. No wonder we are gaining weight that we find hard to lose! According to Dr. J. Levine of Mayo Clinic, sitting is the new smoking. Sedentary life of contemporary office workers causes two sets of major problems – first related to inactive lifestyle, and second, due to the compromised respiratory and digestive systems. Dr. Levine is only the latest to point out the severe problems that sedentary life causes. It was actually Dr. A.C. Mandal, a Danish physician, who about 70 years ago, talked of Homo Sapiens (the wise man) having become ‘Homo Sedens’ (the seated man). Dr. Levine talks of ‘NEAT’, Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis that helps us burn more calories simply by changing our lifestyle to a more active one. According to research, you cannot make up for long hours of inactivity by workouts in the gym any more than you can make up for the effects of drinking alcohol everyday by drinking mineral water one day a week. What we need is less sitting and more activity at work. Unfortunately, most ergonomic chairs and tables make people more comfortable, not more active. As if sitting is not bad enough, many of us spend long hours looking at a laptop, tablet or smart phone. All these were designed for convenient use on-the-go, rather than continuous use. Common problems like neck and back aches, that afflict most people at one time or another, are a direct consequence of what these devices make us do. Keeping a better posture at work will help young people avoid these problems and older people get rid of existing problems.
Tips to combat a sedentary lifestyle at your workplace:
If you often suffer from aches and pains at work, keeping a better posture is the key to solving your problems. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:
- Get up from your seat every half an hour – even if it’s just to find a file, grab a coffee, or use the washroom
- Take phone calls standing
- Rearrange the meeting room to have standing meetings
- Use a sit/stand workstation that lets you stand up while you work
- Better still, use a tall desk that allows you to do certain activities only while standing All it takes is a few lifestyle adjustments to become a healthier, happier
- and more productive individual!
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