The risks involved with a sedentary lifestyle are well known by now, with a study last year suggesting that the lack of physical activity in our usually working life is as damaging to our health as smoking. It’s lead to the emergence of all sorts of interventions, from wellness programs that aim to get employees up and about, to treadmill desks that allow us to walk while we work.
See Also: The 5 Minute Office Workout
A recent study highlights how a lack of activity can be particularly harmful to female employees. The Swedish study found that an excessive amount of time spent sat down during work (and indeed personal) can increase the chances of women getting endometrial and breast cancer.
The study saw over 29,000 Swedish women analyzed. The women, who were aged between 25 and 64 were all free from cancer at the start of the study, with each woman being monitored over a 25 year period for changes in their health.
The participants were split into three distinct groups:
- The first group had an office based job and generally did no physical activity (such as sport) outside of their work
- The second group also had an office based job but did participate in sport in their spare time
- The final group were in a slightly more active job that involved standing, and also played sport in their spare time
The Health Risks of a Desk Job
The results revealed that women who were not active in either their work or personal time were roughly 2.4 times as likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer before they entered menopause, and also 2.4 times as likely to be diagnosed with endometrial cancer (which is a cancer of the lining in the uterus), than their more active peers.
So what can be done about this? The authors suggest there are a number of small measures we can take to improve our situation. Even getting up from our desk to make a cup of coffee or going for a walk on our lunch break can help offset some of the risks involved with sitting for prolonged periods.
The findings form part of a growing cohort of research highlighting the risks involved with prolonged sitting at work. For instance, a previous study found that every additional two hours we spent sat down each day could be attributed to a 10 percent increase in our chances of getting endometrial cancer, and an 8 percent increase in the risk of contracting colon cancer.
Indeed, studies have highlighted that inactivity is currently linked with up to 49,000 instances of breast cancer in the United States alone each year. That represents over 20 percent of the total number of diagnoses each year in the country. It underlines the importance of ensuring we take regular exercise throughout the day to make sure our long-term health is maintained.
See Also: The Health Risks of Sitting At Work
With findings like this beginning to emerge, is it enough to encourage you to make changes to your own lifestyle? Have you begun to exercise more during your work day? Let me know in the comments below.