Homeworking is really, really bad for us

Homeworking is really, really bad for us

There was an epidemic in the western world way before Covid came along. It was an epidemic of inactivity!

Mike Allen, 3 minute read

Doctors have been calling it the sitting disease, but it’s not a disease in itself — you can’t catch sitting disease, but all the chronic conditions that are killing us are linked to sitting.

Sedentary lifestyles increase all causes of mortality. If you sit still for more than 9 hours a day, you’re doubling the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity, and increasing the risks of colon cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, lipid disorders, depression and anxiety.

Our bodies are designed to move and our brains are designed to control our movements. It’s as simple as that!

And before you say, “ah, but I Peleton up Mount d’Huez every night in my garage”, sorry, but the latest research shows that you can’t ‘undo’ the damage from prolonged sitting by doing vigorous exercise at the end of the day. That’s not to say there isn’t any benefit from doing that, of course there is, but it doesn’t cancel out the damage caused from sitting still for most of the working day.

But we’ve known this for decades, what’s changed?

Covid-19 pushed the workplace away from the office to the home. For many businesses, guess what happened……..not a lot. At the time I was consulting for one of the big 5 energy companies in the UK. The idea they could run their customer operations without a call centre was, frankly, ridiculous…..but Covid-19 made the impossible, possible.

Many of their employees said they loved working from home. Some said they hated it. But one thing was for sure, businesses that had been severely hit by the pandemic, searching for savings to offset the financial impact of the pandemic quickly saw that potential savings in real-estate costs: they knew they could operate with a distributed workforce, so they didn’t need office buildings.

But, what is it they say, ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch’, it’s never that simple. Organizations can strip away the cost of bricks and mortar (and heating, air-conditioning, power, security, insurance) by closing the office, but there is a cost. That cost will be borne by their employees in their mental and physical health. 

One massive upside of working from home is that it gives us back the time it took to commute to and from the office. For many of us, it’s a couple of hours a day — or a meal with our kids every day, not just at weekends.

There’s a massive potential downside to the commute taking less than a minute (and 10 steps)…..it’s really bad for our heath because we’re hardly moving. 

The curse of the conference call exacerbates this — we sit down with a coffee and log on at 9am….and four hours later, we’ve hardly moved!

That lack of movement could literally shorten our lives. 

So, what do you do about it? Well, it’s surprising easy. In fact, you probably know the answer already. Yep, you move more, more often. 

That’s it.

Research from the Mayo Clinic concluded that you need to move every 30 minutes and that movement can be very minimal — you don’t even need to stop working.

It’s something like this;

Exercise Credit: Moments2Move.com

Obviously, the more vigorous, the better. If you wanted to do more, do more. But the frequency is more important than the movement. 

Then it becomes about the nudge

There are tools to help us — you might have it on your smartwatch, or you can use tools like www.Moments2Move.com which also has a social aspect to it with the use of challenges which can be done with friends and colleagues.

But whatever you do….just move more.

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