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May 22, 2024

Sitting at Work Linked to Higher Risk of Early Death, But Just 15 Minutes of Exercise Can Undo the Harm

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Jan 20, 2024

Prolonged sitting at work is associated with an increased risk of early death, especially from cardiovascular disease, according to several new studies. However, just 15-30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day may eliminate these health risks.

New Research Highlights Health Dangers of Sedentary Jobs

People with desk jobs that involve prolonged sitting are at a much greater risk of dying from heart disease and other causes compared to those with standing or physically active occupations, scientists warn.

A recent study tracked over 100,000 adults and found that those with sedentary office jobs were nearly twice as likely to die from heart disease and almost 30% more likely to die from other causes over the 8-year study period.

Other research also indicates that a lack of activity while at work is as detrimental to health as smoking and obesity. Sitting for over 8 hours daily without breaks increased the risk of premature death by up to 59% compared to standing or moving around.

Why Is Too Much Sitting Harmful?

Remaining sedentary for long periods can have many negative effects on health:

  • Reduces blood flow and triggers inflammation
  • Increases blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure levels
  • Weakens muscles and bones leading to pain and stiffness
  • Slows metabolism and causes weight gain

Over time, these factors significantly raise the chances of developing heart disease, diabetes, obesity, osteoarthritis, depression and some cancers.

Extra Physical Activity Can Counteract Risks

However, engaging in just 15-30 minutes per day of moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, cycling or some light strength training, may eliminate most of the health risks caused by sitting for prolonged periods at work.

One analysis found that office workers who did 25 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise reduced their risk of early death to the same levels as cleaners, postal workers and nurses who are physically active on the job.

Even simple activities like taking short active breaks, using sit-stand desks or holding walking meetings can counteract some of the cardiovascular, metabolic and musculoskeletal damage linked to excessive occupational sitting.

Solutions To Reduce Sedentary Time Among Office Workers

In light of this evidence, experts recommend various strategies to decrease sitting and increase activity in desk-centric work environments:

  • Set reminders to stand up or walk every 30 minutes
  • Conduct meetings while walking or standing
  • Replace chairs with balance/stability balls
  • Install height-adjustable sit-stand desks
  • Encourage use of stairs over elevators
  • Provide ergonomic advice and flexibility breaks
  • Promote workplace wellness initiatives and challenges
Strategy Effectiveness Cost
Reminders to take breaks High Low
Walking/standing meetings Moderate Low
Sit-stand desks High Moderate
Workplace wellness programs Moderate Low-Moderate

Following these simple tips can drastically improve cardiovascular and metabolic health, slash healthcare costs from obesity and chronic illness, boost energy and productivity, and prevent hundreds of thousands of early deaths linked to prolonged occupational sitting each year.

What’s Next?

As remote and hybrid work models become more predominant, governments, organizations and employees themselves much each do their part to ensure digital jobs do not remain overwhelmingly sedentary.

Further public health campaigns and workplace reforms encouraging movement and exercise should be enacted to reduce the risks revealed by this sobering new research on sitting. Without action, the modern workforce faces surging rates of early death and chronic disease from our increasingly chair-bound lifestyles.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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