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Has Your Office Life Made You Fat?

Munching on food

It has been a long-drawn discussion whether all of these advances in technology has made us fat, particularly office junkies who spend a good part of our lives hacking away at keyboards and staring at monitor screens.

Perhaps the only movement you’d do is to walk towards the coffee dispenser to drown vats of sugar-laden coffee. Combine that chilly air-conditioning and that’s pretty much your life. No sweat!

No more need to walk up to a colleague’s cubicle, just a click your IM and send that important file. No more huddling to an office space for a meeting, an IM conference will do. We tend to walk less and less.

This observation can be made worldwide, as BBC’s report on E-mail makes office workers lazy says:

Dr Dorian Dugmore, an international heart expert, said: “We are losing millions of hours of exercise through the explosion of e-mail…

“The average energy expenditure of deskbound workers falls well below the recommended amount of 40 minutes per day.

“People e-mail colleagues who sit next to them, never mind those who work over the other side of the office.

“It might seem like a small change to make, but we need to start somewhere in a bid to change people’s increasingly lazy attitudes.”

It’s very evident that office life is quite sedentary. Not so much action in the physical sense. I was also a victim of such a sedentary lifestyle. Back in my college days, I used to run three miles a day to keep myself fit. A year after graduation, spending most of my time writing and doing reports and analyses comfortably in my workstation, I found that I was 20 lbs grossly overweight.

Now, ever since I’ve retired from my corporate career and started focusing on the more flexible work of writing, blogging, and taking graduate studies, I’ve found myself more in control of my schedule – something that I didn’t have when I had a boss who was hounding me every minute of the day. I now get to squeeze in an exercise routine every morning. And I don’t need coffee anymore to keep me active since I have my good eight hours of sleep for that.

However, even writers like me can fall into the deathtrap of laziness. The Blog Herald marketing manager, J. Angelo Racoma writes on his personal blog about sedentary lifestyles and blogging:

…I’ve always thought that if I ceased to follow the demands of the bundy clock, I would have more time to attend to life’s niceties. But working independent and having no time to follow might sometimes mean working all the time, actually. And this can sometimes be stifling to one’s creativity (and on one’s personal life), particularly if you set no boundaries between work and personal life.

So it’s a call for physical activity. Again, Dr. Drugmore’s states in the BBC article:

“Increasing activity levels by just 10% could save 6,000 lives and £500million per year, and one million fewer obese people in England could mean 15,000 fewer people with coronary heart diseases, 34,000 people developing type 2 diabetes and 99,000 fewer people with high blood pressure.”

So as a piece of advice to workers, try to stay active. When there’s an opportunity to walk around, do so. Log in more mileage on those legs!

As for business owners, try to encourage physical activity in the workplace. I know some of the more capable companies have their own spaces where employees could jog on a treadmill or lift weights to relieve stress. But if you can afford such benefits, then you may want to organize 15-minute stretch routines for your employees. These would help them be active through out the day.

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