Are desk jobs really that bad for your health? How much sitting is too much?
According to recent health statistics regarding desk jobs, close to 86% of American employees have jobs that require long periods of sitting. There are several health issues to consider when it comes to desk jobs. Sitting affects your posture, mental health, and stress levels. It may also contribute as a factor of certain medical issues, such as cardiovascular diseases and carpal tunnel syndrome. How can you prevent desk job health risks from impacting your employees?
Five Health Risks of Desk Jobs You May Not Have Considered
Many employees have a job that tethers them to a desk. According to the National Institute of Health, living a sedentary lifestyle leads to a number of health issues, including increased risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and certain types of cancers.
There are even more health risks that can occur, however, that may not be as obvious. Take a look at five issues that can affect your health simply by remaining seated for extended periods of time:
- Bacteria and Germs
Sneezing and other bacteria-breeding sources reside in the workplace frequently. In fact, your keyboard is probably the most germ-collecting surface on a desk. Keep your desk area as clean as possible, preferably with regular usage of anti-bacterial wipes or cleaners.
- Computer Blue Light
According to research, blue light emitted from electronic devices, like a computer screen, has the potential to harm vision. Opthomalagists recommend taking frequent breaks from looking at a computer screen. There are also special blue-light blocking glasses that can help protect from blue light while you’re working.
- Posture Problems
Most people have less than perfect posture when sitting at a desk. Having your arms too high or too low in proximity to a keyboard can cause neck and shoulder problems. Laptops, too, often cause strain on the neck from constantly looking down at the screen.
- Snack Liabilities
Sitting for long periods of time obviously means the body is deprived of exercise. There is also a greater tendency to snack even when you are not necessarily hungry.
- Mental Fatigue
Remaining sedentary and staring at a computer screen without taking breaks can lead to feelings of mental fog, tiredness, and even irritability.
Quick and Easy Tips on How to Stay Healthy at a Desk Job
Assess your workspace for the potential health risks listed above. Sometimes, making a few basic changes is all it takes to have a healthier work station. Try the following strategies to combat common health risks of sitting at a desk all day:
- Plan Ahead
Going out to eat may seem convenient when working nine-plus hours a day. Yet, food portions are typically twice the size of what your body actually needs in a meal. Plus, restaurants use more salt and sugar in their foods than you would if you cooked at home.
Prepare lunch beforehand. You may also consider bringing high-protein, fiber-filled snacks into the office to keep you energized throughout the day.
- Start Small
If you work on the fifth floor but get tired climbing the stairs after the first floor, try taking the elevator to the fourth for a week. The following week, take the elevator to the third floor and walk up the stairs. You can also use the bathroom in a different part of your office or on a different floor. These little efforts increase the amount of movement you get each day.
- Walk More
If you take public transportation to work, you can get off at one or two stations before your stop and walk to the office. Or, if your workplace offers a pedometer program or walking challenges, sign up! This way you can keep yourself accountable for walking more and more each day.
- Reduce Caffeine Intake
Coffee and soda might be common pick-me-ups at the office, but they can be dehydrating. Many caffeinated drinks are filled with sugar and empty calories. Keep bottled water on hand instead. It keeps you hydrated, and it’s filling so you’ll want to eat less. Don’t like the taste of water? Try adding fresh lemon, cucumber, or orange juice to give it a little flavor.
- Stand and Stretch
If you feel bogged down by work that simply won’t allow you to take a walk, stand at your desk and stretch. Doing some basic stretches can help reduce tension and stress in your muscles. Be sure to watch your posture, too. You may want to switch out your chair for one that provides proper lumbar support.
If you’d like to learn more about the health risks of desk jobs and how to counter these risks, Wellworks For You is here to help. We offer a variety of comprehensive programs to improve health and wellness. Contact us today at 800-425-4657 to learn more.