Familiar with the 9-5 grind?
You would definitely be, especially if you have a desk job. The traditional 9-5 job that makes up 40 hours of the work week (which is almost always more than 40 hours) can be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining for many of us. Unfortunately, prolonged sitting that is associated with a 9-5 job is a common part of our day. But what effect does being at your desk all day have on your physical and mental health?
From weight gain to poor posture, varicose veins, blood clots, cancer, and even depression, there is a lot that sitting for long hours at your 9-5 job can do to you. In what follows, we look at the health concerns of working a 9-5 job. But that's not all that we look at in this post.
We also explain how you can fight the typical 9-5 grind and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Health Concerns of Working a 9-5 Job
Most 9-5 jobs are desk jobs that require employees to sit for long hours. While most people spend at least eight hours a day in a sitting
position, you will find many employees skipping their lunch hours and staying up late in the office only to meet project deadlines.
While spending hours at your desk may benefit your organization, it is detrimental to your health because the human body is not naturally sedentary. It is designed to keep moving, and as they move, the body consumes energy and helps you maintain healthy body weight.
However, when you are more sedentary during the day, your body uses up fewer calories and stores the remaining food intake as fat.
So unless you reduce the intake of your calories accordingly, prolonged sitting can lead to obesity. Since a 9-5 job requires you to spend most of your time at work in a sitting position, weight gain is the most obvious side effect associated with a desk job. And while obesity is the most noticeable effect, it is not the only health concern associated with a 9-5 job. There are several others that we look at below.
When you are sitting for prolonged hours, your body doesn't use up the food intake optimally because your metabolic function decreases, which eventually results in weight gain. But when your body is not optimally using the food you eat, it can also lead to health concerns such as Type II diabetes. While prolonged sitting is typically linked to an increased risk of death from several causes, however, the strongest link is with diabetes, according to several researches.
Increased Risk of Blood Clots and Poor Heart Function
Another possible health concern that may arise due to a 9-5 job that requires you to sit at your desk is an increased risk of blood clots and poor heart health.
When the body is in motion, the blood flows regularly. Moreover, the body digests lipids more effectively and maintains a healthy structure of the vein. However, when a person spends most of their time in a sitting position, it affects the regular blood flow. Moreover, it also changes the composition of the blood with abnormal lipids. Furthermore, prolonged sitting is also associated with changes in the wall structure of the veins. Together, these three things can significantly increase the risk of blood clots. The risk is particularly high as the muscles in the legs pump blood out of the legs and push it back to the heart. When a person continues to sit for longer periods, it means that blood pools in the veins of the legs, and the blood flow is compromised, which leads to the formation of blood clots. The risk further increases if you are a smoker or are taking any medication that thickens the blood. One of the other possible health concerns of working a 9-5 job is poor heart health. When you are inadequate physical activity, your heart muscles remain strong and effectively pump blood to different body parts.
However, it weakens your heart over time when you are not physically active and spend most of your time sitting at a desk without adequate physical activity. As a result, your heart fails to pump blood around your body efficiently, impacting your concentration and performance and affecting your overall health and well-being.
Blood clots are not the only dangerous aspect of working a 9-5 job. Several other health concerns may not be dangerous but can severely affect the quality of life. Spending prolonged hours at a desk can worsen varicose veins, the twisted, enlarged veins that are often a result of prolonged sitting and associated compromised blood flow.
Perhaps the most common health concern associated with working a 9-5 job is poor posture and associated musculoskeletal disorders.
When you spend a long time in a sitting position, it can take a toll on your musculoskeletal system and can lead to neck and shoulder pain, backache, and hip joint concerns. After all, sitting in a single position and not moving around is not good for your spine, shoulders, and spinal muscles. Apart from the issues with the spine, constantly working a desk job can also lead to repetitive stress injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome.
May Harm Your Vision
Most desk jobs require you to work on computer screens, and if you are spending around 1/3 of your day staring at a screen, it can strain your eyes and cause harm to your vision. While some people may experience temporary effects of prolonged screen exposure, including eye strain, however, some of the effects such as headaches and migraine may continue. Moreover, prolonged exposure to screen may also be linked with sleep deprivation and even obesity.
Increased Risk of Depression
While there are several physical health concerns associated with a 9-5 job, there are a few mental health concerns that one cannot disregard.
According to research, people with a sedentary lifestyle have an increased risk of mental health concerns. A possible explanation that best suits office workers are their lack of exposure to natural light. Since most people with desk jobs do not get enough exposure to sunlight, it can lead to mental health concerns. Moreover, it can also make it harder to fall and stay asleep, which further adds to the risk of mental health concerns.
How to Save Yourself from the 9-5 Grind
While there are several health concerns associated with a 9-5 job, the positive aspect is that you can save yourself from the negative implications of a 9-5 job. Some of the possible ways to save yourself from the 9-5 grind include the following.
Work in Intervals
One of the most effective ways to save yourself from the 9-5 grind is to work in intervals. For every hour that you spend at your desk, make sure you take a 5-7 minutes break to walk around outside or have a chat with a coworker. You can also spend your break time stretching yourself or decluttering your mind.
You can also break up your work day into three or four parts depending upon the type of work you do, and make sure you take a few minutes of a break following each chunk of your day.
Opt for a Flexible Schedule
While the pandemic has disrupted the world, perhaps the most positive impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the flexibility in terms of work. An increasing number of employees now have the flexibility to opt for a remote or flexible schedule that can significantly reduce the health concerns associated with a 9-5 job. Today, you get more time to have a shorter and more workweek that leaves ample time for physical exercise and a lot more.
Invest in Appropriate Office Equipment and Accessories
If you are working in an office, you will likely have access to ergonomic office chairs that provide adequate support to your body. However, many offices today lack the facility of a height-adjustable standing desk that allows you to alternate between standing and sitting as you work 9-5.
If your office hasn't yet invested in a height-adjustable standing desk, you can enjoy the benefits of a height-adjustable standing desk by investing in a standing desk converter. One of the most reliable standing desk converters available on the market is the AlcoveRiser Bamboo Standing Desk Converters- 28"/35", which allows you to alternate between sitting and standing conveniently so you can mitigate the health concerns associated with prolonged sitting. Find out more about the AlcoveRiser Bamboo Standing Desk Converters and other ergonomic office equipment and accessories here.
If you are feeling exhausted or burned out because of the 9-5 job grind, asking for help always makes the best solution. Do not hesitate to reach out to your personal network or a professional counselor to help you find a better work-life balance and improved mental health.
Working a 9-5 job can be physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing. It can lead to various health concerns, including poor heart health and a lot more. Fortunately, there are ways you can combat the health concerns of working a 9-5 job and live a happy, healthy, and more productive life.