Sedentary life: the dangers you should avoid

How a workforce can stay healthy and balanced while working from home.

Your Work
6 min read
Australians are famed for active lifestyles and a love of the outdoors, but with an increasing number of the population working from home, traditional levels of physical activity during the working day are reducing.

We now have a generation of workers who sit for eight hours or more working on computers. Then, if you include the additional hours people usually spend walking or biking on the commute to work, levels of inactivity are on the rise.

It’s difficult to identify health risks for white-collar workers as they are not as obvious as those working in trades, industry or agriculture. It can be very easy to ignore the warning signs, but there’s now government research to suggest that low levels of physical activity may contribute to a higher risk of disease.

Prolonged sitting

According to the Department of Health, “56% of Australian adults are either inactive or have low levels of physical activity – that is more than 9.5 million adults.” Being sedentary for prolonged periods (e.g. sitting at your desk or workstation) can have a negative impact on your spine, organs and muscles.

Ensure that you stretch regularly and take walks (opt for the stairs instead of escalators whenever possible) and remain as active as possible throughout the day to counteract this.

Bad posture

Ensure that you are sitting with your back straight (and supported), arms close to your sides with your elbows bent at 90 degrees and your feet flat on the floor. Arrange items on your desk so you don’t have to strain your back or neck to reach them. Also try not to leave your hand resting on your mouse while you look at the monitor.

Living a sedentary lifestyle can be dangerous to your health. The Better Health Channel published ‘The dangers of sitting: why sitting is the new smoking’ which explained the internal dangers of bad posture and other poor habits.

Storage of bags

Falls are one of the most common Loss Time Injuries (LTIs) for white-collar workers. Casually stowed bags and bag straps play a particularly dangerous role in these injuries. Be vigilant around your own home desk area, tucking in any bag straps that could catch on your feet (ideally your bag should sit on your desk if possible). Please also be mindful of charging cords, pushed out chairs and open desk drawers in your home office space.

eye strain while using a computer

Eye strain

Evidence suggests that you won’t permanently damage your eye sight staring at a pixelated screen(s) for many hours at a time. However, it is good practise to take regular breaks from the computer and relieve your eyes.

To reduce your risk of tiring your eyes experts recommend that you look away from your screen every 20 minutes and gaze at a distant object (at least 20 feet away) for at least 20 seconds. Some eye specialists call this the “20-20-20 rule.” Looking into the distance relaxes the focusing muscle inside the eye and helps reduce fatigue.

Dehydration

It is recommended that an adult should consume at least 6-8 glasses of water per day to stay hydrated, especially during the summer months. Hydration may help to improve productivity at work and drinking plenty of water may help to reduce your cortisol levels, a hormone in your body which produces stress.

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