The 9 to 5 grind can seem just that on certain days at the office, but apart from the stress of deadlines, how else can this sedentary lifestyle be affecting our health? Although it may seem as though we need to do a lot of exercise to counteract the eight hours of sitting down, that may now not be the case…
The health effects
In a world with a growing obesity problem, most of us will have learned about the effects of too little exercise. However, it isn’t only our waistline we should be worried about; sitting down for too long at an office desk can lead to increased levels of troponin. These proteins are released by the heart when the muscle is damaged, as well as being one of the key indicators that someone has suffered a heart attack. While the increased troponin levels may not mean someone will have a heart attack themselves, they could indicate damage to the heart in other ways.
Outweighing the negatives
It may seem daunting to think there is a risk from sitting at your desk all day, but have no fear. Research has proven that you don’t need to suddenly start running marathons at the weekend after the Monday to Friday gruel. In fact, performing 30 minutes of high-intensity exercise three days a week can quickly begin to undo the years of the desk life, especially if that is teamed with half-hour walks on the other four days.
The less sweaty alternative
Sounds relatively easy, right? Well, if you’re not a fan of getting all hot and sweaty a few days a week then there may be an alternative. For those sitting down at work for 6 hours a day, then you can counteract the negative side effects with just half hour exercise (such as walking) a day. Those working for 8 hours need to amp it up a bit as they need to be active for an hour each day. However, this doesn’t have to be all at once as the exercise can be split up over the course of the day. Getting up and going for a 15 minute walk at lunchtime can easily see a quarter of the days exercise done without taking up too much time.
For people nearing middle age that feel as though the effects will never be reversed, sadly there is no excuse anymore. In a research study, 24 people aged 48 to 58 were all asked to follow the high-intensity training regime, and the results were shocking. After two years the effects of sitting down all their lives had pretty much been reversed. In addition to saving their health, the participants also managed to improve their overall being as well as their heart’s ability to pump blood efficiently around the body. Another 24 people in the same age range were asked to perform yoga or another form of stretching three days a week. However, their results weren’t as impressive. Even though the yoga group didn’t see dramatic results, many of them went on to sign up for cardio classes after falling back in love with exercise.
Have no fear, years of sitting at our desks haven’t done irreversible damage – yet. By jumping up getting moving for as little as half hour to an hour a day we can quickly begin to rewind time on our health. Plus, time away from our desks for a while may make quite a pleasant change in the working day.