They say sitting is the new smoking.
Research continues to show that spending a little less time in your office chair can reduce your chances of cancer, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and back pain.
There are two groups of people reading this right now; people sitting at a desk that might be on the verge of a panic attack, and people that work manual labor jobs laughing at the desk jockeys.
But, don't think you're in the clear just yet if you work a manual labor job.
The British Journal of Sports Medicine recently published a paper that took data from 17 previous studies and found what the authors called a "physical activity paradox."
So, while sitting at your desk for prolonged periods is bad for you, and exercise in leisure time has proven to be good for you, the "exercise" you get at work probably isn't good for you after all.
The study found that men in physically demanding jobs had an increased risk of 18% of early death compared to men who work jobs requiring little to no physical activity.
And, the link was only found in men who worked physical jobs, not women.
So what's the deal? Why is an exercise in leisure time good, but not when you're at work?
We'll do a deep dive into these questions below.
Table Of Contents
- Are There Social Factors Involved?
- Work vs. Leisure
- Men vs. Women
- What Do You Do If You Work A Physically Strenuous Job?
- Visit A Chiropractor
Are There Social Factors Involved?
Early studies that showed the health benefits of physical activity were actually based on people who were active at work.
In the 50s, groundbreaking research studied the difference between London Transport Authority conductors whose jobs kept them active, and drivers, whose jobs kept them sedentary.
The sedentary drivers were found to be at a higher risk of coronary heart disease.
Still, there's a huge difference between the kind of physical activity a transport conductor does compared to the work a construction worker does.
Today, there aren't as many physically demanding jobs as there were in the 50s. And, the people who hold the physically strenuous jobs tend to be from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.
There's research that also points to the fact that people from poorer backgrounds have poorer health outcomes generally.
So, is the increased risk of early death due to the job or the socioeconomic background?
Some of the studies adjusted for things like smoking, alcohol intake, and diet, which are all independent risk factors for early death.
People with a lower socioeconomic background are all more likely to have these added risks, and it's hard to separate those risks from the physical nature of their jobs.
But researchers continue to believe that the link between physically strenuous jobs and early death is still there.
Work vs. Leisure
Most experts agree that there needs to be guidelines to differentiate between the exercise people do for fun and the exercise they do at work.
The hypothesis is that the physical activity people do at work is different from the physical activity they do for fun.
And it's different in ways that are important for how a body responds and becomes fitter, stronger, and healthier.
Physically strenuous jobs are usually tedious, repetitive, and they're active for long periods, often for eight hours or longer.
And the intensity they're working at isn't always as high as someone who is going for a 3-mile run or lifting weights in a gym for an hour.
People who are active at work don't have the same recovery options as people who are active in leisure time, making the work harder on their bodies.
Men vs. Women
Another strange part of the study was that the risk of early death was only found in men and not women.
Women were actually found to receive the same benefits from physical activity at work as they did in leisure.
The most obvious reason for this is that the physically demanding jobs women typically do are different from the physically demanding jobs men do.
Women have also shown to respond differently to different types of exercises than men.
There's no concrete conclusion as to why this is the case, but experts agree that it's most likely a combination of those two factors.
What Do You Do If You Work A Physically Strenuous Job?
If you're worried about the health risks of working a physically demanding job, the best thing you can do is exercise when you get home. Or before work, just make sure you're exercising when you aren't at work.
Experts agree that exercise as a leisure activity has health benefits, no matter how active you are at work.
This might seem counterintuitive, and the absolute last thing you wanted to hear, but it really is your best option.
People who exercise at their leisure will be in better shape and better able to handle the physical demands of their job.
They will also receive all of the other long-term benefits of leisure-time physical activity, including a reduced risk of early death.
Even if you're exhausted because of work, you should still take time to be active when you get home.
It doesn't have to be extreme, just go for a walk, play with the kids, anything to get you moving.
Just don't collapse on your couch and stay there.
Staying active at home will help you manage your job easier and make it less stressful.
Visit A Chiropractor
One of the best things you can do for your overall health and well-being no matter what your socioeconomic background is or what kind of job you work is to see a chiropractor.
Chiropractors are known for fixing back pain, but they do so much more.
A chiropractor makes sure your spine is in proper alignment so everything in your body can function at an optimum level.
During your first trip to the chiropractor, you will undergo a physical examination as well as a review of your medical history so your chiropractor can design a treatment plan just for you.
Chiropractic care treats underlying issues, so even if you aren't experiencing any pain or other symptoms, there's a good chance you can still benefit from seeing a chiropractor.
If you're ready to get started, you should contact the team at Florida Spine and Injury.
They have years of experience treating people just like you, and they'd love to help you today.
Click the button below to get started.