My entire job, which I spend around 40 hours per week doing is sitting on my butt and staring at a computer screen. A somewhat alarmist article pointed out the considerable health risks of doing just that, which included an increased risk of heart disease, decreasing around 7 years of quality of life, as well as escalating my chances of getting cancer. So far, I’ve been doing this kind of work for around a decade, and can’t see any significant change coming in the next few years.
Out of interest, I borrowed a pedometer from the public library (what don’t they have!) for a while to get an idea of how much activity I was involved in over a normal 8-hour day. At the end of the week, I found I was averaging around 4-5 thousand steps per day. After some more testing, I found that this level of activity amounted to about a forty-five minute walk, which seems low for an 8-hour period.
I’m not sure what a normal amount of activity is supposed to be, but what I do know is that humans as a whole (especially developed nations) haven’t really been as lazy as we are now ever in our entire history. The majority of people (myself included), move from an ergonomically designed work seat to a couch at home and don’t really do much in between. Even if all you did was lift heavy things and walk around when you were done work, it’s difficult to overcome the negative impact sitting has on the body when that’s all you do for a good chunk of your day.
I’m not sure I entirely believe that I’m killing myself at work – I just don’t think sitting around constantly for longer than I have to is overly healthy in the long-term. The sitting around is definitely not going to help me as my metabolism slows over the next decade or so and fighting off weight gain becomes considerably harder than it is now. Looking at how I spend the majority of my free time now, I’m definitely more active than I am while at work – where my time is somewhat controlled and I don’t have the freedom to wander around.
Do you worry about the effect your desk job has on your health? Do you think you’ll be healthier after retirement?