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Desk jobs and other sedentary professions now make up the majority of jobs in developed nations. Sedentary jobs were already on the rise back in 1960, when around half of the workforce had physically active jobs, and have risen 83 percent since 1950 in the US. Shockingly, approximately 86 percent of all US jobs now involve sitting down most of the working day!
Add the daily commute, time spent behind screens at home, and other sedentary activities to the day, and you get a rather frightening picture. Your average Joe or Joanne spends more than half of their waking day sitting on their butts, a meta-analysis of 47 studies published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2015 reveals.
What is all that sitting doing to our health? When you hear that the average American eats 500 more calories a day than they would have 30 years ago, you begin to understand — more sitting and more eating equals a bigger obesity problem. Your risk of overweight isn't the only thing you have to worry about if you are working a desk job, however. Unfortunately, research reveals that extended periods of sitting are bad for you even if you get in plenty of exercise when you aren't in that chair.
'Sitting Disease': How Your Sedentary Job Is Making You Ill
"Sitting disease", as it has been dubbed, has far-reaching consequences. Your overall risk of facing any of the health problems associated with sitting for extended periods of time will depend on numerous factors, including how long you sit, whether you exercise and if so how much, and on your diet. However, even "just" spending four hours a day in front of a TV or other screen (a pretty routine occurrence in today's world) has detrimental effects.
If you do a full-time sedentary job, research reveals, you may have to face the fact that you could be at risk for:
- Cardiovascular disease, including angina and suffering a heart attack
- Becoming overweight and obese
- Type 2 diabetes
- Osteoporosis and hip fractures
- Back pain
Your all-cause mortality also goes up, by as much as 125 percent in those who spend a total of four hours or more in front of screens — and if you're doing a full-time desk job, you're almost guaranteed to be doing that for a much longer period of time.
Unfortunately, changing your job might not be an option, and then again, it's quite possible you actually do love your job. The question becomes what we can do to escape the risk of a sedentary lifestyle. The next page, I promise, will offer you a whole lot more optimism!