Are you sitting comfortably? Work's hidden danger

Picture of a man stretching at his desk

Sitting down all day at work is bad for your health. Here are some easy ways to get more activity in your day.

There has been a stream of articles in the media with dire warnings that sitting at work all day could be as harmful to our health as smoking. Could the media just be exaggerating?

Unfortunately, no. Research shows physical inactivity is disastrous for our health. A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of heart disease, Type II diabetes and various forms of cancer, not to mention obesity, mood disorders and muscular issues. A 2008 study estimated inactivity ccaused 5.3 million deaths worldwide in just one year.

And if you think you’re safe because you exercise before or after work, this isn’t always the case. While 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per day does help, it doesn’t completely undo the impact of a day spent slumped in your office chair.

How to reduce your risk

Rest assured, it doesn’t have to be anything strenuous. It simply means moving your body more, and more often.

Get up and move every hour

If you have an activity tracker or a smart watch, set a regular timer to remind you to take a quick walk. Outdoors or somewhere with a bit of nature is ideal. Some onsite mining jobs don’t lend themselves well to this, so use the time to walk around the building, get a fresh glass of water or tea, or stretch.

RELATED: Having a positive outlook can be good for your health

Walk or cycle to work

You don’t have to take on the whole distance; try cycling to your local train station or walking to the bus stop. Plus, it’ll provide you with a dose of energy and melatonin first thing in the morning.

Stretch wherever possible

We’re forcing our bodies into less-than-ideal positions when we sit all day. The University of the Sunshine Coast has a visual guide to office stretches here. And driving for a living can take just as much of a toll on your body, if not more so. Download the Scania visual guide for truck drivers here.

Walk instead of calling or emailing

Do you have to visit someone in another building or even on the other side of the office? Get up and have a face-to-face conversation instead of emailing. Plus, it’s nice to have human contact and a short break from the computer.

Stand up when talking on the phone

Even if it’s a minute or two, that’s a good start. The simple act of standing up and moving your legs for a few minutes will get the blood flowing.

Change your desk and/or chair

Depending on how forward-thinking your company is (many companies in the mining industry in Australia are getting much better), they may be open to different desk and chair options for employees, such as standing desks or sitting on a stability ball. There are even treadmill desks available.

RELATED: Work, fun and fitness – how to have it all

Organise a walking meeting

This might seem a little strange but a walking meeting has been shown to not only help to physically pep you up, but also mentally. Walking helps us think – and often think more creatively.

Take advantage of workplace perks

Do you have a gym on site? A stretching or yoga class would be just as good as a weight session, treadmill or group class. No need to break a sweat.

Don’t eat at your desk

Get outside and eat. If there are stairs in your building, take those instead of the elevator. If there’s a park nearby to lunch at, even better.

If you want to get your career moving (and not just your body)  register with MPI .

Leah Fogliani
Mining People International