Office workers have become increasingly sedentary since the 1970s according to a new study. Researchers from the Université de Montréal in Canada have analysed statistical material from Statistics Canada databases to uncover a 10% increase in obesity between 1978 and 2004.
The data appears to suggest that among office workers, the levels of physical activity during office hours have been steadily decining in the last three decades. In spite of a net increase in the amount of exercise people do and an over all improvement in diet, there is still a problem. Carl-Étienne Juneau from the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine makes the link with the nature and style of office working as employees do not appear to be doing the short bursts of activity such as going for a walk in the lunch break or using the stairs that would keep them moving through the day.
The findings are published today in the early online edition of Preventive Medicine and have implications for the ideal way of promoting healthy exercise. Instead of concentrating on doing sports activities during leisure time, it would be more effective to combat obesity by providing opportunities for physical activity during office hours.
For instance, Juneau suggests that, "Exercise can't just be an individual thing anymore. We must focus on groups. For instance, there are now tax credits for parents who register their child in a recognized physical education course. A similar program could be developed in the workplace for employees."
If the study is to influence policy, how might this look in the future? Office gyms are proven to improve performance and productivity among staff, for example, but few companies are forward thinking enough to shell out for such facilities without some other incentives.
Source: Université de Montréal
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