Greg Barila

Journalist. Editor. Social Media specialist.

The science is becoming increasingly clear – sitting for hours on end at work is a suspended death sentence

Sitting all day at work is a health hazard.
Sitting all day at work is a health hazard.
I THINK pop music philosopher Britney Spears said it best: “You want a hot body?/You want a Bugatti?/You want a Maserati?/You better work, b**ch!”
I’d settle for “You wanna pay off your mortgage before you’re 90?”, but I guess that’s clumsy, musically.
I may never get that Maserati, but I am working hard – harder than a pair of Britney’s spandex pants on a world tour.
And chances are that you are, too.
You’ve read all the headlines. Australians are working harder and longer than ever before.
We’re more stressed, and as technology dissolves the barriers between the office and our leisure time, we’re taking our work home with us more often. (Admit it! You check your emails from home and on holiday, don’t you?)
In fact, overall working hours have declined a smidgen in Australia in the past 10 years.
But the number of Australians working “very long hours’’ is still well above the OECD average (14 per cent v 9 per cent).
Australia now ranks fourth out of 34 OECD countries for long hours worked, and one in five men say they’re putting in more than 50 hours a week.
At the same time, almost one million Australians are underemployed and would be working more hours if they had the chance.
Lucky for us, Tony Abbott has a plan for that – we’ll just turn looking for work into a full-time job!
But while we’re killing ourselves working, work is slowly killing us.
The science is becoming increasingly clear: sitting for hours on end (working, watching TV) is a suspended death sentence, and according to one Queensland study, has the potential to shorten our lives by about 22 minutes for every hour we’re sat on our bums.
“What really surprised us was when our data began to show that people who sit longer are more prone to breast cancer, prostate cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, even depression,” Mayo Clinic endocrinologist James Levine told US news site
It’s not only because when we sit we burn fewer calories, but because, according to the Vox article, our muscles also undergo a whole range of metabolic changes that, basically, are bad for our bodies.
Worse, hitting the gym daily might not be enough to undo the damage of excessive sitting.
It’s enough to make you want to curl up on the couch with a DVD and a bucket of ice-cream.
But regular desk breaks to get up and stretch your legs can apparently keep the grim reaper at bay.
Standing and treadmill desks have become trendy in many offices, particularly in the US, in companies where everyone is under 25 and named Brandon.
But even if we can’t find a way to work safely, how much work should we actually be doing?
“Life is too short for a full-time job,” Indian entrepreneur Mohit Satyanand wrote recently in an article on titled “I quit working full-time years ago – here’s why I recommend it highly”.
“Time unwatched is its own treasure, gracious host to conversations that drift and swoop, afternoons that stretch into evenings, dinners that slur into a last coffee.
“And, if you’re like me, and can spend entire winters watching tongues of fire flicker in an open fireplace ... there’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want.”
Now, that sounds like something to work towards, don’t you think?
Social Media Editor Greg Barila writes a regular column for The City magazine