What are the Consequences of leading a Sedentary Lifestyle in the Office?

Contributed article, by Jacklyn Donald 

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A Sedentary Lifestyle in the Office Can Make You Obese

Out of all the OECD countries, New Zealand has the third highest obesity rate, and that obesity rate is still rising according to the Ministry of Health. Obesity is often associated with diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, stroke, ischemic heart disease, some common cancers, sleep apnoea and more. A key factor that is contributing to the rise in obesity, is people leading sedentary lifestyles in the office. In a four day work week, there are a number of wellbeing improvements – the results of Perpetual Guardian’s trial saw staff stress levels reduce (45% pre-trial, 38% post-trial), and work-life balance increase significantly (54% pre-trial, 78% post-trial). In the case of reducing the effects of a sedentary lifestyle, a four day week would include the ability to use the extra time and have the mental space to lose weight. However, there are other ways people who work in offices can lose weight and avoid obesity.

Sitting does not make you obese

Too much sitting, does not lead to substantial gain according to a study by Dr. Meredith Peddie and her team at the University of Otago in New Zealand. To reach this conclusion, they looked at 31 studies that evaluated the link between sedentary behaviour and body weight or obesity. But what sitting does is that it slows your metabolism right down, which makes it easier for a person to gain weight, whilst being difficult to lose weight.

A simple definition of metabolism is that it is the body’s process of converting the food and drink you consume into energy. It does this by burning the calories found in the food and beverages you consume, which is why it's important to have a solid knowledge of how nutrition works. Since you do not need a lot of energy to sit, your body does not burn a lot of calories. However, people have different metabolism rates, and that means that there are people who burn more calories faster than others even when they are seated.

Your sitting habits make you obese

If you are chained to your desk for six hours a day or more, you need to watch what you eat and drink. Constantly biting into the fudge brownies or the peanut butter cookies your co-workers give you, will likely make you put on weight. When you eat food with a lot of calories while you are seated for hours at work, your body has to store those extra calories as fat. That extra fat goes into your waistline and other areas of your body.  Every week adults obtain 1300 calories from foods and beverages they got at work according to an article in the New Zealand Herald.

Apart from that, constantly snacking at work may make your body store more calories. You need a regularly spaced meal time for your body to burn more calories in between meals. That does not mean that you are not allowed to eat snacks at the office. All you need to do is eat healthy snacks when you feel hungry, which is usually at midmorning or mid day just before lunch break. Healthy snacks include fresh fruits, plant based chips, dark chocolate, peanuts, granola and more. 

Standing rather than sitting

You burn more calories when you are standing compared to when you are seated. Get a standing desk for your workplace or stand up from your desk every hour at work. There are many other exercises that you can do at the office to keep you fit and healthy.

The fact that sedentary office lifestyle is even an issue is because people spend too many days at the office. A four day work week, amongst other wellbeing improvements, may help workers keep the weight away, while improving their productivity at work and self esteem.

Laura BurnsComment