Wednesday, 15 October 2014

An Office Worker's inactive life

I work in a corporate office in the Melbourne CBD.  I work a typical office job where my work requires me to primarily sit in front of a computer all day.  I'm a data analyst, so that also often entails getting totally engrossed in data and reports.  Sometimes 4 hours can pass before I look up from my work.

There has been more and more research into the effects of the increasingly common office work lifestyle. There have been shown to be physical effects on someone who spends 8 hours a day sitting down.  Some of the physical side affects are obvious - the balance between energy expended and energy consumed can be out of whack (I am a chronic 'nibbler' when I work!), leading to possible weight gain.  As we've all heard before, excessive weight can increase the likelihood of developing serious conditions such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and some cancers (source).

There has also been shown to be links between inactivity and anxiety and depression.  Conversely, exercise is often encouraged for those who suffer from mental health disorders or illnesses.  I know personally that if I'm stressed or in an angry mood, exercise helps pull me out of it!  Sometimes when I'm being grumpy my husband will (nicely) tell me it might be a good idea to go for a run :P

There have been some programs created here in Australia and around the world to encourage us to get more active.  Today, the World Health Organisation (WHO), US Centre for Disease Control, US Surgeon General, American Heart Foundation, US Department of Health & Human Services, and the National Heart Foundation of Australia all recommend individuals take 10,000 steps a day to improve their health and reduce the risk of disease (source).  

An example of a program to get people moving is the Global Corporate Challenge, which I did a few years ago.  This was sponsored by my employer, and a team of workers tried to accumulate as many steps as possible over a 5 month month period, competing against teams from all over the world.  We were given a pedometer that we had to wear all day, every day, and log our steps on the website each day.
I found it really difficult!  I wasn't particularly active at that time, but I did catch public transport to work, which involved some walking.  I still generally didn't get above 6,000 steps a day.

Even now, I have to consciously try to make choices to help me reach something in the vicinity of 10,000 steps per day.  But I also know that I feel better, and I work better, on the days when I move more.  I thought I would share the events of my day to help you find ways of being more active, even during a normal work day.

Tomorrow I'll give you an outline of what I did, and the numbers of steps I took as a result, as well as some hints and tips I find useful to keep in mind!

Do you think you walk 10,000 steps a day?  Why don't you do the mini-challenge with me tomorrow? Let me know how you go!

I am not a doctor and I have never had any medical training. These are just my own thoughts and comments based on my own, limited research and knowledge in the area. If you want more information, speak to your doctor or health adviser.


  1. It is incredibly difficult to get in enough movement when you work at an office. You try to take breaks here and there, but when you are busy it is very much a challenge.

    1. I totally agree! It's difficult to balance being available and getting your job done, and taking small breaks.