How healthy is your work?

Researchers from the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research at the University of WA have found a link between sedentary work (where long periods of time are spent sitting) and an increased risk of colorectal cancer, regardless of recreational physical activity.

The study was carried out in Western Australia between 2005 and 2007 and involved men and women self-administering a questionnaire about their work history, lifestyle, diet and medication use.

Participants were asked about their lifetime occupational history and the results indicated that the participants who had spent 10 or more years working in sedentary jobs had an increased risk of distal colon and rectal cancers compared with those who had never had a sedentary job.

How many hours do you sit down each day?

If you work with a computer it is probably quite a few (I know how long I spend tapping at this machine!)

Whilst the mechanisms behind the increased risk are not yet fully understood, we can take the general message and try to include more physical activity in our day at work.

This could be as simple as getting up every 1-2 hours and having a good stretch.  This also helps avoid neck and shoulder stiffness, stretches your eyes and allows you to take some deep breaths.  A couple of bigger bursts of activity through the day can include going for a brisk walk around the block as a mid-morning break, taking the stairs when we come back in from lunch, or going to a nearby gym or yoga class for a session during the day.  You may have to come to some understanding with your boss, but in the long run you will both benefit as your increased energy and focus will help improve your productivity overall.

The abstract from the WA study can be found here:

http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2011/03/18/aje.kwq513.abstract