Sitting Too Long At Your Office Desk? You Are Raising The Risk Of Early Death; Here’s A Simple Solution
New Delhi: Sitting for long hours while working on the laptop has become a norm these days. This work culture got normalised during COVID-19 when working from home became acceptable. With it, came an unhealthy lifestyle, which included binging while sitting at the desk for hours together. The scrouge continues leading to a host of health issues related to the back, the muscles and the heart.
According to the latest study, occupational sitting time is associated with an increased risk of premature mortality. Spending too much time parked at your office desk increases your risk of premature death, especially from heart disease. Adding some movement to your day can help counteract the deadly effects of sedentary lifestyles.
The study titled ‘Occupational Sitting Time, Leisure Physical Activity, and All-Cause and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality’ published in JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association) on January 19, showed that individuals who predominantly sat at work exhibited a higher risk of mortality.
According to the study, such individuals faced a 16% higher risk of all-cause mortality and a 34% increased risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared to those who were mainly active at work.
The study found that alternating between sitting and standing at work, along with adding 15 to 30 minutes of daily leisure-time physical activity, can help reduce these risks.
As the world faces the challenges posed by increasing metabolic diseases and cardiovascular issues, there’s a growing spotlight against sedentary lifestyles, which involve excessive sitting over standing. Hence, for the first time, the 2020 World Health Organization guidelines on physical activity recommended reducing sedentary behaviours owing to their health consequences.
This is not the first study to highlight the harmful effects of prolonged sitting. Many studies in the past have proven that sitting for long hours causes obesity and a cluster of other comorbid conditions such as increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and unhealthy cholesterol levels.
Additional health issues encompass tight hips, back ailments, osteoporosis, and leg clots. While the exact reason remains unclear, excessive sitting has also been associated with an elevated risk of cancer.
A simple solution is walking – which many describe as the closest thing we have to a wonder drug.
The researchers of the latest study said, there is limited understanding of the precise link between prolonged occupational sitting and health, particularly in settings with low levels of physical activity.
In the study with a follow-up of about 13 years, the mortality risk was compared between people who predominantly sit at work versus those who do not sit.
In this cohort study involving 4.81 lakh individuals over a mean follow-up period of 12.85 years, individuals who predominantly engaged in sitting at work showed a higher risk of mortality from all causes (16%) and cardiovascular disease (34%) compared with those who predominantly did not sit, even after adjusting for sex, age, education, smoking, drinking, and body mass index.
This study suggests that cutting down on long periods of sitting at work and/or boosting daily physical activity could help lower the increased risks of dying from any cause and developing cardiovascular disease linked to prolonged sitting at work.
The benefits of walking
Some studies have found miraculous benefits of walking. For instance, Harvard researchers examined 32 obesity-related genes in over 12,000 individuals to gauge their impact on body weight. Those who engaged in brisk walking for about an hour daily saw a 50% reduction in the influence of these genes on their weight.
A study conducted by the American Cancer Society specifically focusing on walking revealed that women who walked for seven or more hours per week had a 14% reduced risk of breast cancer compared to those who walked three hours or less weekly.
One of the important takeaways from the study is that people who mostly sit at work should aim for an extra 15 to 30 minutes of physical activity daily to reduce their elevated risk to the same level as those who mostly stand or move at work.
Doctors advise them to set reminders using devices like phones or fitness trackers every 30 minutes to prompt breaks. Opt for the stairs instead of the elevator, even if it’s just for a portion of the journey. During breaks, stand up, move around, or hydrate
People can use adjustable desks for intermittent standing and opt for stairs instead of elevators. One can also incorporate the habit of walking or standing while talking on the phone or during video calls.