How many times per day do you take a break when you’re working? Whether you’re in the zone or have a tight deadline, you can completely forget to take time out to de-stress and move – especially when working from home.
In fact, a new survey of remote workers conducted by wellbeing app Magic Mountain found the majority of us (86%) feel we have too much on to take a break away from our desks.
Over half of respondents (54%) shared they spend a shocking eight hours sitting in front of their screen. Additionally, 63% of those surveyed said they only go outside for 10 minutes or less during business hours.
All this is bad news for both our mental and physical health.
What happens if we don’t go outside?
Well for starters it deprives your body of vitamin D. Vitamin D is an important vitamin and though we can get it from food, it’s also produced by your skin when your body is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, which are needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy, according to the NHS.
Research has also indicated that vitamin D plays a key role in helping to regulate the immune system and fighting off viruses – which is one reason you hear it discussed in relation to Covid-19.
Equally, not spending enough time outdoors can have an effect on your mood because it impacts on our body’s level of serotonin, which is a a feel-good chemical and neurotransmitter believed to be a natural mood stabiliser.
Spending a limited time outside also affects our melatonin levels. Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally made by our bodies, its production is closely linked to light and it helps control our sleeping patterns. So if you don’t spend enough time outside, it can affect how you sleep.
Then there’s the problems associated with sitting
You probably know that sitting all day isn’t great for your health, but the science still makes from some shocking reading.
Numerous studies suggest sitting down for long periods of time can heighten the risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, some types of cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
Humans were created to stand upright, our heart and cardiovascular system work better that way. People who are bedridden in hospital have been found to experience problems with their bowel function, as our bowels function more effectively when we’re upright – another reason to get up and about.
The NHS says that long periods of sitting down can slow down your metabolism, which affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down body fat.
Many adults in the UK spend nine (or more) hours a day sitting, by the time you factor in work, plus activities like watching TV, using a computer, reading, or travelling by car, bus or train.
A review of 13 studies looked at sitting time and activity levels and found that those who sat down for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity were at risk of dying at a similar risk-level to those who passed away due to obesity and smoking.
The NHS suggests reducing sitting time by:
standing on the train or bus
taking the stairs and walk up escalators
setting a reminder to get up every 30 minutes
placing a laptop on a box or similar to work standing
stand or walk around while on the phone
taking a walk break every time you take a coffee or tea break
walking to a colleague’s desk instead of emailing or calling
swapping some TV time for more active tasks or hobbies,
And of course, getting up from your desk and actually leaving the house once a day while you’re working from home is a good place to start.