Is the workplace really damaging our health?

Published / 29/06/2015

I find myself, probably like many of you, spending way too much time in front of my computer.

When I do face-to-face meetings, my colleagues and I typically meet around a conference table or sometimes a coffee shop or hotel. This means that the common denominator isn’t a desk, a keyboard or even coffee, in today’s modern workplace it is in fact, sitting.

As we work, we sit more than we do anything else. We are averaging 9.3 hours a day, compared to 7.7 hours of sleeping. Sitting is so prevalent that we don’t even question how much we’re doing it.

Health studies conclude that people should sit less, and get up and move around. After one hour of sitting, the production of enzymes that burn fat declines by as much as 90%. Extended sitting slows the body’s metabolism, affecting things like healthy cholesterol levels. Research shows that this lack of physical activity is directly tied to 6% of the impact of heart disease, 7% for type 2 diabetes and 10% for various cancers. With a death rate of 400,000 a year in the EU directly related to obesity, these figures should not be taken lightly.

So, it’s true, the workplace really is damaging our health.

Slowly but surely employers are starting to recognise this, although the UK has been slow on the uptake. Finally things like the stand-up desks are becoming a regular feature in the workplace, along with walking meetings and clever apps such as ‘Lifeguard’ and ‘Breaktime’, which encourage workers to take a break or change their position.

So tomorrow morning as I battle with the commuters for that space on the tube perhaps I will be a little less eager to take a seat.

To learn more about office design that fully engages with employee wellbeing click here.