The challenge for many is that their job responsibilities require them to be seated for most if not all of their work hours.
A new program is being developed by MUSC Employee Wellness and the Wellness Center to provide equipment, training and support for desk workouts. These programs will include group and one-on-one sessions on workouts that can be done while at the work station and include yoga, fitness ball and exercise bands.
The average day for most Americans begins with a sit down breakfast or coffee while reading the paper, followed by a commute to work either sitting in a car or some type of mass transit. Once at work most people spend a minimum of six to eight hours sitting at a desk with maybe a break to eat lunch sitting at the desk or in a restaurant, and possibly a seated meeting.
So what are the health risks associated with a seated lifestyle? Common effects include weight gain, poor posture, eye strain, poor circulation, muscular weakness and of even more concern, increased risk for chronic disease.
Researchers from the American Cancer Society compared a large group of long-time sitters to people who sat less than three hours a day and controlled for factors like smoking. Death from heart disease was the biggest risk associated with prolonged sitting, and women were more vulnerable. Women who sat more than six hours a day faced a 33 percent higher risk of early death from cardiovascular disease compared with women who sat fewer than three hours a day. Men who sat for long periods had an 18 percent increased risk of premature death from heart disease.
Although some offset a sedentary workday with regular exercise, new studies are now suggesting that it may not be enough to reduce health risks of prolonged sitting. Studies have found that the health risks of a sedentary day are not reduced by adding daily exercise no matter how intense it is. Failing to exercise plus sitting for long stretches proved even more hazardous. The combination of little physical activity and long periods of sitting was linked to a 94 percent higher risk of premature death for women and a 48 percent higher risk for men compared with those who sat the least and exercised the most.
What can make a difference in the health risks of a sedentary work day is to incorporate frequent activity breaks from the seated position. Non-exercise activity is defined as activity that is incidental to normal life such as walking down the hall, taking the stairs or even just standing. For instance, a "standing" worker might burn approximately 1,500 calories while on the job compared to a person behind a desk expending only 1,000 calories. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
Employee Wellness events
- Wellness Wednesday: Desk exercise: Exercise bands for fitness. Visit MUSC Employee Wellness and the Wellness Center staff from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Aug. 24 outside the Ashley River Tower cafeteria to learn how a 10 minute exercise band workout performed at a workstation can lead to better health and fitness. Free exercise bands while supplies last.
- Lunch & Learn – Yoga at Work: Learn how yoga poses done while at work can create better health and wellness. The class is held from 12:15 - 12:45 p.m. Aug. 24 in Room 107, Colbert Education Center & Library. Register at email@example.com.
- Worksite screening: The next screening will be held Aug. 25. Register at http://www.musc.edu/medcenter/health1st.
For information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.