Study after study has shown that spending too much of your day sedentary is not good for you. With a number of illnesses and diseases associated with prolonged sitting, the number of people affected by these illnesses continues to rise. Here we will look at the top 20 diseases and ailments you are prone to get from working in an office and how to avoid these potential pitfalls.
#1: Increased Risk of Obesity
One of the biggest outcomes of an increase of sedentary time during the day is obesity. Simply put – the more you sit, the less calories you burn. When you pair this phenomenon with unhealthy food options like high-fat to-go options, working in an office can pack on the pounds.
How to Avoid: Two great ways to avoid this increase in weight is to makes sure to get up and move throughout the day and make sure to plan your meals to make healthier decisions during the work day.
#2: Higher Risk of Muscular Skeletal Disorders
According to the United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration, work related musculoskeletal disorders are a serious problem for many Americans. (1) The top offenders include:
– Carpal tunnel syndrome
– Rotator cuff injuries (affects the shoulder)
– Epicondylitis (affects the elbow)
– Trigger finger
– Muscle strains and low back injuries
How to Avoid:
Because each diagnosis is different, the avoidance strategies vary. Some of the best practices include educating employees on proper posture and seating at their desk. Moving and stretching https://www.jasonl.com.au/blogs/main/infographic-17-essential-office-stretches-that-you-should-do-now-to-avoid-injury-at-work throughout the day is also critical.
#3: Shortened Life Span
In a 2012 article published by US News and World Report, the authors discussed the findings of a multi-prong study conducted by health experts. They set out to determine the affect of prolonged sitting on life expectancy. After evaluating five comprehensive studies (including approximately 2 million participants) they found that “people who said they spent more than three hours a day sitting were two years less than people who spent less than three hours sitting daily.” (2)
How to Avoid: In order to negate the effects of prolonged sitting, it is important to move at set points throughout the day. New evidence shows that a standing desk might be a significant breakthrough for avoiding a shortened lifespan. (3)
#4: Higher Risk of Heart Disease
Working in an office setting often means that lunch is quick and not well planned out. This leads to way too many meals like pizza, fast food and other fatty food options. These are foods that we all know can lead to heart disease.
How to Avoid: Make an effort to either pack a healthy lunch or to plan a healthier dining option near your office. Being prepared can help avoid bad eating habits.
#5: Bad Posture
While you might start your day in the ideal sitting and typing position, throughout the day almost all of us begin to fidget and slump. You might sit on a leg or foot or slump your back as you sit. This can lead to very bad posture and eventually pain in your back, shoulders and neck.
How to Avoid: Make sure your desk chair is a goof fit for your needs to help with back support. We like Jasonl office chairs, especially the ergonomic range. Also make sure your keyboard and monitor are in the right position for best possible posture.
#6: Possible Cancer Link
Some studies have shown a correlation between prolonged sitting in an office and higher risks of certain types of cancer like colon and breast cancers. (4) This may be due to the higher rates of C-reactive protein, which is found in people who sit for extended periods of time.
How to Avoid: Using a standing desk https://www.jasonl.com.au/collections/stand-up-desks is one way to combat the effects of C-reactive proteins. Another great option is to get up a move for a few minutes out of every hour.
#7: Chronic Headaches
In a 2012 study on headaches among US office workers, researchers found that, “migraine diagnosis and elevated headache frequency are associated with an uncomfortable indoor environment.” Unfortunately a high percentage of workspaces have poor lighting, unfiltered air and less than ideal office furniture.
How to Avoid: There are a number of factors that should be addressed in order to minimize chronic headaches such as better lighting, more comfortable office furnishings and plenty of breaks from staring at the computer screen.
#8: Vision Problems
Staring at a computer screen under less than ideal lighting it bound to mess with your vision. In a 2015 Safety and Health magazine published an article discussing how computer screens, poor overhead lighting and working in light that doesn’t change can cause major stress on your eyes. (5)
How to Avoid: According to the same authors, one of the best ways to avoid this problem is to locate computers parallel to (not directly under) overhead lights and angle computer monitors away from sources of light.
#9: Poor Air Quality Effects Your Lungs
The US National Institute of Health (NIH) published a pivotal study in 2008 describing what is known as “Sick Building Syndrome.” They found that office buildings are as much as 100 times dirtier than the outdoors. Older buildings are full of potentially dangerous gases and chemicals, as well as pollutants in the air conditioning and dangerous bacteria and mold.
How to Avoid: Larger air filters are one way to remove contaminants from the air. A bigger solution if for offices to be properly cleaned and maintained to adhere to safety standards.
#10: Higher Risk of Infection
Office workers are at a surprising risk for a number of infections and illnesses caused by germs lingering on office surfaces. In the study Concentrations of Airborne Bacteria in 100 US Offices Buildings, researchers found that offices throughout the country are riddled with a number of different bacteria strains including staphylococcus and e.Coli.
How to Avoid: While the overuse of anti-bacterial soaps and gels is cautioned against, regular hand washing is a must. It is also important that office spaces are cleaned regularly to limit bacteria.
#11: Chronic Lower Back Pain
Sitting for long periods of time often includes not sitting with the best posture. Slouching and leaning can result in persistent, nagging lower back pain.
How to Avoid: In the article Ergonomics of the Office and Workplace: An Overview, experts describe how common back pain is for office workers. They describe how basic ergonomic guidelines can help keep pain at bay. Note the importance of an ergonomic office chair to support your body as you work. (6)
#12: You Are More Likely to Catch a Cold
Although many employers encourage employees to stay home when they get sick, with limited sick time they often don’t heed this call. This leads to an increased risk of developing a cold if you work in an office. A UK study showed that people working in office buildings with open floor plans are at a much higher risk of catching a cold. (7)
How to Avoid: Simple steps like regular hand washing will help keep you healthy when a cold breaks out in the office. It is also beneficial to keep workspaces private with walls or office partitions to keep germs isolated.
#13: Don’t Forget About the Flu
Like colds, the flu is more likely to spread in close quarters. A study conducted by Staples founds that even when people are “aware of the impact of the flu on workplace productivity, but more than half of people surveyed (53 percent) say they have gone to work with the flu.” (8)
How to Avoid: Employers should put policies in place that allow their workers to stay home when they get sick. Keeping germs out of the workplace is the easiest way to keep it from spreading. Also encourage hand washing throughout the day.
#14: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome on the Rise
Yes, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is technically part of the Muscular Skeletal Disorders category; however with a steady rise it deserves its own category. Each year the rate of patients suffering from the numbness and pain of CTS rises.
How to Avoid: The best way to avoid CTS is to use appropriate office ergonomics. This includes things like proper chair height, good desk posture, an ergonomic chair and anything else that promotes proper body function. https://www.jasonl.com.au/blogs/main/infographic-remote-work-how-to-make-your-home-office-ergonomic
#15: Muscle Fatigue and Weakness
Spending too much time engaging in repetitive behaviors can lead to fatigue, weakness and even atrophy in many muscles throughout the body. It may start as a nagging problem but over time it can lead to pain and permanent muscle loss.
How to Avoid: To avoid problems with your muscles, constant change is your friend. Move your mouse to different locations each day to keep your muscles guessing. Also be sure to get up and move as often as possible during the day. You can also try a standing desk to change things up.
#16: A Decline in Your Mental Wellness
A study at Kansas State University found that people who work more than 50 hours a week are likely to report much lower rates of mental health and wellness. (9) Things like boredom, too much repetition and low rates of job satisfaction can really put a dent in your mental state.
How to Avoid: Staying as close to 40 hours each work week will help stave off any potential mental health detriments.
#17: Painful and Even Damaged Joints
According to the Health Joints Organization website, extended periods of sitting can be harmful for many of your joints. Working in an office can lead to pain and damage to your knees, hips, neck and wrists. (10)
How to Avoid: The first line of defense to avoid joint problems is to make sure your office furniture supports your body and your joints. An ergonomic chair will help you maintain your posture as you work. Also try to get up and stretch whenever possible.
#18: Higher Rates of Depression and Anxiety
A 2016 study published by the National Institute of Health compared rates of anxiety and depression between office workers and those work in manufacturing. (11)They found that office workers were more than twice as likely to report symptoms of anxiety and just under twice as likely to suffer from depression.
How to Avoid: Keeping the symptoms of anxiety and depression at bay may require the help of a mental health professional. In the workplace you can make efforts to socialize with colleagues in social spaces to keep your mood elevated.
#19: Lower sperm count
Researchers at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic found that working with a laptop in your lap can cause men to have a drop in their sperm count. (12)
How to Avoid: There many innovative ways to avoid this problem, including laptop tables, lap pads and computer stands.
#20: Degeneration of Spinal Disks
A less common, but potentially dangerous side effect of extended sitting is a degeneration of the disks in your spine. As your disks compress from hours of sitting they can start to break down. (13)
How to Avoid: A great way to avoid problems with your spinal disks is to get up for a couple of minutes during each hour of the work day. If you have the option of a standing desk, take it!
By knowing the causes of many common ailments associated with prolonged sitting, you can work to avoid them. Although working in a traditional office often leads to a number of unwanted illnesses and diseases, your fate is not necessarily sealed. Make sure to take the proper precautions and make sure to support your body while you work. This will help keep you focused and healthy throughout your work day.