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Dangers of sitting at a desk all day

Spending long hours glued to a PC can have a severe impact on your health. Desk job could be as harmful to our health as smoking, a study has found. Watch out. Here's what you can do to save yourself.

health-and-fitness Updated: May 03, 2011 14:17 IST

Spending long hours glued to a PC can have a severe impact on your health. Desk job could be as harmful to our health as smoking, a study has found. Watch out.

Those who have worked for more than a decade at a computer terminal are twice likely to develop bowel cancer, it says. In fact, spending ten years in front of a PC increases the risk of bowel cancer even if one goes to the gym.

The study conducted by the University of Western Australia found that one of the main risk factors was long periods of inactivity.

Dr Claire Knight of Cancer Research UK, said, "The more active we are the more we can help reduce our risk". The amount of time people spend staring at screens has a direct link to heart health, cardiologists opine.

CoupleThose who work 11 hours a day raise their risk of heart diseases by 67%, according to researchers at University College London. Sitting for long periods without getting up have a larger waist circumference and higher levels of bad cholesterol, experts in Australia have found. Dr Genevieve Healy, from the University of Queensland, said, "Even small changes, as little as standing up for one minute, might help to lower this health risk."

According to data made available by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA), one third of us sit for more than 10 hours a day and half do not leave their desks — even to have lunch. Slouching at your computer means you are more likely to be a sufferer. Rishi Loatey, of the BCA, said, "Our bodies are not designed to be so sedentary."

Working from dawn to dusk has been linked with dementia. Middle-aged employees toiling more than 55 hours a week have poorer mental skills and short-term memory than those on less than 41 hours, research has found.

On the other hand, keyboards of computer harbour more harmful bacteria than a toilet seat, studies show. Microbiologist Dr Peter Wilson said a keyboard was often "a reflection of what is in your nose and in your gut".

However, in order to minimise the risks one should not sit for long periods. Drink lots of water and take deep breath to maintaining good blood circulation in arms and legs.

Get moving

Take short breaks regularly. Instead of getting your tea served at your table, make it a point to get it yourself.

Do simple exercises. Bend down, touch your toes, hold one side of the chair arm and twist your body, rotate your neck clockwise and anti-clockwise.

Look out of the window after every few minutes to soothe your eyes. Rinse your eyes with water when you go to the washroom.

Close your eyes and take deep breaths for two minutes.

Cut down on your tea intake. Switch over to nimbu pani, without any sugar or have green tea.

Your brain demands more carbohydrates when you are at work. Carry fresh fruits and vegetables. You can also munch unsalted, roasted chana.

Tips courtesy: Prachi Agarwal, Fitho

(With inputs from HTC)

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