The average full time worker spends about 8 hours a day at the office. Depending on your occupation, a lot of that time can be spent sedentary. Sedentary behaviour is defined as a period of behaviour assumed during waking hours where you are expending minimal energy (e.g. sitting, lying down). As I’m sure most people are aware, too much sedentary time is not good… So much so that when the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology published their updated Physical Activity Guidelines, they also published Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines.
A report published by Stats Canada in 2012-13 investigated the prevalence of sedentary behaviour in adults as well as any of the health consequences that have been associated with it. The authors found that adults spent on average 9 hrs and 48 min of their waking time sedentary. They also found that the older the participant, the more sedentary they were throughout their waking hours. Based on these stats, to present it in a different way, Canadian adults spent almost 60% of their waking hours burning minimal energy.
So what are the implications?
Studies have shown that living a sedentary lifestyle with low amounts of physical activity has been linked to an increased risk of death from a number of chronic health conditions (e.g. cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, certain types of cancer…). As you can imagine, these conditions are also associated with a decrease in quality of living, an increase in workplace absences, and an increase in financial burden on the healthcare system.
What do we do now?
As we’ve already discussed in a previous blog, every little bit counts and any increase in your overall activity levels are going to have health benefits. This might mean getting creative throughout your workday to initiate movement here and there. Get up to take your calls if you have a cordless phone, walk a memo to a colleague instead of e-mailing them, or challenge yourself to get out the office for your breaks/ lunch in an effort to move more. What about walking meetings when the weather is nice? Not only will they help to add some activity, but can also help to improve attention. How about parking further away from the entrance for a few extra steps? All it takes is one or two at work to start the trend, and what was once a challenge to get up and move becomes a habit.
Let’s say you’ve tried all these options and just can’t seem to make them stick. Make an effort to move more outside of work by limiting screen time (phone, computer, television), catching up with friends over a walk, or looking into the variety of recreational activities your municipality has to offer. Could you walk to perform some of your errands in town? Could you park at the far end of the mall to challenge yourself to walk a bit further? These are just some examples, but get creative and help you help yourself to be more active!