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Is your desk job killing you? How to stay well at work

Contemporary work culture leaves many workers seated for as many as 13-15 hours a day

Over the last two decades, more than half a million people have taken part in studies designed to understand the impact of our modern, more sedentary lifestyles. The overarching conclusion has been that those who spend more of their time sitting, as little as 4 hours a day, have a 50 per cent greater likelihood of dying early, than those who are more active.

Even if your busy schedule doesn’t allow for regular trips to the gym or a daily jog, experts say that simple techniques such as standing more at your desk could lower your risk of obesity and other chronic illnesses.

Studies have shown that your risk of developing diabetes and heart disease almost doubles when seated for more than half a day. Movement affects your metabolism. Those who spend most of their time seated, convert less of their food to energy.

This can result in weight gain, and for some, obesity. Even those who are leaner, suffer the effects of more extreme sugar spikes that can be alleviated by moving more often. Although many believe that the best way to tackle weight problems is by changing their diet, scientific evidence suggests that it is not only easier to make small changes to your activity levels, but that this can have dramatic health effects.

One technique used to tackle workplace inertia is “email-free zones”. The idea is that instead of sending an email to a colleague who is nearby, you instead walk over to them and have the discussion in person.

There are other ways in which you can become active at work far beyond wandering over to and sharing information at the water cooler. Experts believe that while technology is often blamed for our inactivity, it can be also used to solve the problem.

Mobile phones allow you to have telephone meetings on the go. You could consider including a few walking meetings into your daily schedule, even if the meeting is in person. You can also use your mobile device as a pedometer, to ensure that you are meeting your daily walking requirements.

Off the clock, game consoles are also a great way to get active. You can exchange games that require sitting with those that inspire movement. Examples include Just Dance for the PlayStation and Nintendo Wii fitness games.

For those who still drive to work, getting more activity into your day, could be as simple as ditching the car. Even if you don’t exchange your car for a bicycle, taking public transport will ensure that you do a lot more walking and standing, at the beginning and end of your working day.

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