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Desk Potatoes Beware!

by on March 18, 2013

Shoot me, but I love the Huffington Post!  Tons of blogs…not traditional news, but thought provoking (considering the corporate news landscape, maybe that’s not such a bad thing), and then, there’s the comedy!  I found this humorous post on the Books page, a link to the Betty  Glover Library Workout Tape, reposted from Youtube.  Here’s the clip.

Ah, yes, it is funny.  All those ancient OPAC terminals and vertical and horizontal drawers we keep in the back…not to mention that good ol’ eighties pop and hair!  But, this clip does beg the question about potential health concerns associated with librarianship.  Let’s be honest…many of us do sit…a lot!  (I know I’ve become a bit more convex than I’d like.)  The point could be made that it is simply the nature of our profession.  Fair enough, but maybe we ought to start challenging that nature.  Sedentary life and work styles do have health risks.

According to Heidi Evens of the New York Daily News, sedentary work behaviors can trump even good exercise routines: “Even if you are a gym rat, if you sit the rest of the day you are at increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, obesity and premature death, a new study has found.”[i]  The study, published in The International Journal of Nutrition and Physical Activity, [ii] focuses on women’s work behavior patterns, but the risks extend to men as well.  The lead researcher on the study, Lynette Craft, from the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern Univeristy, recommends that workers who sit most of the day should “move around at a light pace every 30 or 60 minutes before plunking [themselves] back down in a chair.”[iii]

The Center for Disease Control, on their workplace health promotion webpage, notes that workplace activity can

  • Reduce feelings of depression
  • Improve stamina and strength
  • Reduce obesity particularly when combined with [proper] diet
  • Reduce risks of cardiovascular disease (high blood pressure and cholesterol ), stroke, and type 2 diabetes[iv]

Toronto’s city website reports that workplaces where increased physical activity is promoted see

  • increased productivity, job satisfaction, employee morale
  • reduced absenteeism, employee turnover, health care claims, risk of injury/illness
  • improved corporate image and employee health[v]

Increasing our activity level at the workplace can be as simple as using stairs instead of elevators, walking over to a colleague’s office or desk rather than calling or emailing them, taking walking breaks, and stretching every hour to relieve muscle tension.  For more suggestions, checkout these suggestions from the Mayo Clinic.  No, we don’t have to become biblio-Richard Simmonses (thank heavens!), but getting up and around more would certainly do us good.

[i] Evans, Heidi.  (2012).  “If sitting all day, working out does not reduce risk of diabetes, heart disease, obesity and premature death for women: study”  New York Daily Newshttp://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/working-reduce-risk-diabetes-diseases-study-article-1.1211368#ixzz2MXLwbrtu

[ii] The full study can be accessed at http://www.ijbnpa.org/content/9/1/122.

[iii] From Evens

[iv] Center for Disease Control. (2012).  “Workplace Health Promotion.”  http://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/evaluation/topics/physical-activity.html.

[v] City of Toronto. (2010).  “Physical Activity in the Workplace…”  http://www.toronto.ca/health/wc_index.htm.