I am a bit of a Mad Men fiend. I love taking a glimpse into life in the 60s. Being a child of the 80s, I was taken aback by the amount of smoking in the workplace that was taking place at Sterling Cooper (not to mention the drunkenness and sexual harassment, but that’s a story for another time). Smoking in the workplace has been restricted in one way or another my entire life. To watch Don or Joan so flagrantly light up a cigarette at their desks has always stunned my inner life coach. I find myself silently screaming at them, “Don’t you know how bad that is for you?!?” Ah, the bliss of ignorance.
A lit cigarette in an office is now taboo. Workplace culture no longer accepts smoking as a norm. I wonder, what current workplace behaviors will future generations frown upon? My best guess – sitting at your desk all day.
At first glance, this seems absurd, how could doing your job be bad for your health? Many researchers are suggesting that sitting is the new smoking. In January 2015, the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute released an analytical study. They reviewed 41 international studies and found that the amount of time you spend sitting is associated with a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and death, regardless of regular exercise.
What is surprising to learn is that your other daily activities aren’t enough to combat the impact of a sedentary workday. I have always thought of myself as an active person. I work out, park further away in the parking lot and have hobbies that keep me on my feet for hours. I’ve viewed myself as an active person despite the fact that I have a desk job. Ah, the bliss of ignorance.
Knowing that working out alone is not enough is my first step toward change. Research has not yet determined how much sitting is too much, or how frequently you need to be active, or for how long. Experts, however, recommend moving around every 30-60 minutes to combat the effects of prolonged sitting.
If you are interested in more information on how prolonged sitting impacts your body, or movements to counteract the physical impacts of sitting, check out this infographic from the Washington Post.
Kate N., MS, CEAP, joined Empathia in 2005 as an EAP Counselor, then became a Performance Specialist in 2012. Kate has a master’s degree in Educational Psychology and is devoted to helping individuals determine how to make lasting changes. Prior to joining Empathia, she worked in the social work field as a case manager for Child Protective Services. Kate enjoys baking, yoga and escaping into the woods of Northern Wisconsin.