Sitting Is The New Smoking
Desk jobs are becoming more prevalent in the United States, and because of this, people are less likely to be active in their everyday lives. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, white collar occupations, which are categorized as “office workers, who use a minimum of physical exertion… Managerial, clerical, and sales jobs are common white-collar occupations,” have increased by about 300% in the last 100 years. In 1910, white collar occupations such as: professionals, clerical, managerial, and technical workers made up 24% of the employment population, they now account for 75% of the employment population.
Even if your office has treadmill desks, chances are that you aren’t getting as much physical activity at work as your ancestors once were. This means that our generation has got to make time, outside of the realm of employment, to exercise and be active. The good news is, we have the available time to devote to being more active, if we choose to designate it as such. In the early 1900’s, it was not unheard of to work 60+ hours per week, leaving very little time for exercise as we know it today. The average work week today is roughly 37 hours long, leaving far more time to be active and engage in physical activities.
While 37 hour work weeks sound wonderful compared to 60+ hour work weeks, they do bring with them one major downfall: less manual labor. More manual labor meant that while at work, more people were expected to be active, not just mentally, physically as well; keeping their waist bands and cholesterol levels in check. It also meant that people had less disposable income and were thus less likely to splurge on food. They often packed leftovers from healthy dinners from the night before, for their daily lunches, rather than going out to a local restaurant during their lunch break.
Normally my opinion on manual labor is that it’s just not for me, and I thoroughly enjoy the fact that my job involves sitting at a desk, researching, writing, editing and informing. When it comes to the realization that all that sitting, without adequate added physical activity, can lead to some serious health and medical problems, I can’t help but start to reevaluate my take on this whole white-collar living situation. Fortunately, with an additional 23 hours per week to be active and divide up amongst errands, socialization, family obligations, and exercise, it’s as if an entire extra day has been added to the average American’s week.
With all that extra time, planning and executing exercise becomes easier than ever. In addition, if you involve the whole family, or some of your friends, it can also become a healthy form of socialization, with the potential to take the place of less healthy activities including: happy hour drinks and fried foods at the bar, financially draining shopping dates, and movie nights that end in a buttery mess of calories and disappointment. Choose activities that you personally enjoy and that engage you physically so that you’ll be less likely to feel like exercising is a chore.
The ultimate goal is to make working out as integral a part of your life today as it was for the average person in the early 1900’s. It doesn’t matter whether you get your heart rate up at home, at work, at the gym, or outside, as long as you get it up. Desk jobs have increased the tendency to spend most of our days sitting. Between commuting, working, and relaxing at home, we spend an average of ten hours per day sitting. Combat this detrimental habit and be active both inside and outside of the office.
Be Active: Simple Ways To Increase Your Daily Activity
|Activity||35 Year Old Woman @ 144 lbs
(Calories Burned Per Hour)
|35 Year Old Man @ 179 lbs
(Calories Burned Per Hour)
|Walk To Work (3.0 MPH)||226||281|
|Bike To Work (<10 MPH)||274||341|
|Stand At Work||144||179|
|Take The Stairs||549||682|
|Stretch While Watching TV||171||213|
|Walk The Dog||206||256|
|Mow The Lawn (Power Mower)||477||469|
Dance At Home
|Coach A Sport||274||341|
“What Does White Collar Mean? Definition and Meaning.” BusinessDictionary.com. Accessed February 08, 2016. http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/white-collar.html.
Dictionary.com. Accessed February 08, 2016. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/white-collar.
“Hours of Work in U.S. History.” EHnet. Accessed February 08, 2016. https://eh.net/encyclopedia/hours-of-work-in-u-s-history/.
“Table B-2. Average Weekly Hours and Overtime of All Employees on Private Nonfarm Payrolls by Industry Sector, Seasonally Adjusted.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. February 5, 2016. Accessed February 08, 2016. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t18.htm.
United States of America. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Changes During the 20th Century. By Ian D. Wyatt and Daniel E. Hecker. Accessed February 8, 2016. http://www.bls.gov/mlr/2006/03/art3full.pdf.
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