Office workers are known for having a sedentary lifestyle, not necessarily by choice. Many of them go to the gym whenever they find the time, but an increasing number of studies say that 30 minutes of daily exercise de not make up for eight (8) or nine (9) hours of prolonged sitting.
The consequences? Office workers are at risk of developing everything from heart disease, to obesity, to type 2 diabetes, to certain types of cancer. Their blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels also go up.
On top of everything, a study published earlier this year in the journal Medical News Today has even suggested that prolonged sitting may lead to the development of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
But the good news is that a team of researchers from the University of Iowa may have found a solution. They’ve suggested putting a portable pedaling device under each office desk so that workers can exercise while they read emails, type documents and talk on the phone.
The team conducted a study and found that office workers who were provided with one of the above mentioned pedaling devices, chose to use it and to increase their daily physical activity. And the more an office worker used it, the healthier they were.
The test subjects lost weight, had better power of concentration, and requested fewer sick days.
Many companies have tried to encourage physical activity in the past by providing their employees with expensive fitness facilities.
But this approach often fails for two (2) reasons – people don’t have time to leave their desk and spend 30 or 60 minutes of their work day ignoring their responsibilities, and most office workers don’t bring an extra set of clothes to work and don’t have anything to change into after performing physical exercises.
Lucas J. Carr, study co-author, assistant professor of human physiology and health, and member of the University of Iowa’s Obesity Research and Education Initiative, gave a statement saying that “It’s a great idea in theory, but it doesn’t work over the long haul for most people”.
He went on to add that these fitness facilities “typically get used only by the most healthy employees”, and not by the “people who need to improve their health the most”.
For their study, professor Carr and his colleagues gave 27 obese and overweight office workers from Iowa portable pedaling devices for 16 weeks. They placed the devices under the subjects’ desks and attached a monitor so that they could see how much time each worker spent pedaling.
What they found was that office workers did not just spend the recommended 30 minutes a day exercising, but most of them paddled for 50 minutes each day.
Sedentary lifestyle is a real problem as survey conducted earlier this year by the British Health Foundation has shown that almost half of female office workers and almost 40 percent (40%) of male office workers don’t even spend 30 minutes a day walking around at work.
The findings were first presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, which took place in San Antonio in 2015. They were then published earlier this month, in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
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