Just another day at the office … or the dreaded “S” word

Just another day at the office … or the dreaded “S” word

By: Gary K. Pino, FMP Can you believe it, when I began working in an office (way back in the day), cigarette, cigar and pipe smoking were all allowed and socially accepted? The office setting actually looked like a scene taken from the hit TV show, Madmen, with Don Draper endlessly puffing away. Despite the various clouds of smoke over-head, the yellowish discolored ceiling tiles and smoky clothing smell, the ash trays were filled to capacity by the end of the day. Back then, Environmental-Health & Safety didn’t really have the influence or strength that it has today, and the Surgeon General’s warning only stated “Smoking May be hazardous to your health.” Well, that was then, this is now… Fast forward thirty-six (36) years, and another “S” word has crept into the “hazardous to your health” category. Of all things, it’s “SITTING” for an extended period of time. When reading Elizabeth Pope’s “Sitting: Hazardous to Your Health” article in my AARP monthly bulletin, l was surprised to see that actually “sitting for long periods of time increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, cancer and early death, even for people who exercise daily.” According to research statistics, we have a nation of sitters, averaging ten (10) hours a day – sitting at work, in a car or on the couch; which for many night owls is more than the number of hours they average sleeping. Having and knowing all of this concerning evidence has caused many groups to step up and provide suggested and proven ways to combat the sedentary lifestyle of America … so that we may regain the healthiest and happiest nation title once again. The American Institute of Cancer Research is encouraging office workers to inject ‘mini-breaks’ into their daily routine … and this is in addition to getting thirty minutes of exercise every day. Furthermore,   American Cancer Society, senior epidemiologist, Dr. Alpa Patel, states, “If you reduce sitting by five (5) minutes an hour, at the end of a long day, you’ve shaved off an hour of your total sitting time.” Scientifically speaking, “prolonged sitting appears to have powerful metabolic consequences, disrupting processes that break down fats and sugars in the blood.” When higher blood fats and lower levels of good cholesterol combine together, they can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Some self-proclaimed “experts” have blamed the 21st century sedentary lifestyle on technology. Instead of walking and riding bicycles from here to there, technology has allegedly removed physical activity right out of daily life. Those experts also contend that the onslaught of PCs, Direct TV, Home Theaters, and remote controls (of any sort – i.e., for TVs and/or garage doors) pretty much discourage people from even thinking about leaving their seat. Today’s office workers, environment and the excuse of “being tied to the desk” may have also contributed to there being less than 20% physical activity in the workplace, compared to 1964, when “more than half of American jobs involved moderate to vigorous physical activity.” So the moral of this story is … please continue to NOT smoke and don’t sit for an extended period of time without taking adequate breaks. What can you do to help overcome this “Hazardous to your health” situation?   Some “back in the day” remedies to overcome the risks of sitting…

  • If geographically possible, deliver messages to a colleague in person instead of texting or e-mailing
  • Set your computer to remind you to stand up & stretch every 30 minutes
  • Stand-up when the phone rings and stretch again
  • Take a walk
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Ride a bike
  • Reduce TV viewing

Here are some other Office Ergonomic suggestions from ATI. For couch potatoes, stand-up when fast forwarding or surfing w/ the remote

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