“Over half of remote workers are now sitting down for almost three hours longer each day”

If we rewind to March 2020, when office workers were made aware of the possibility that they would be working from home for the foreseeable future, it was a celebration. Less travel time, more time in bed, fewer commute expenses. It was a win-win situation. Or so it seemed.

6 months on from the inception if this ordeal, we are noticing more and more negative impacts incurred by adopting a home-office environment. It has been found by a recent survey carried out by Ipsos MRBI that over 50% of people are currently working from their homes, and of this group of the population;

53% of them are sitting down for almost an additional 3 hours per day.

The delight has subsided and people are now looking back reminiscently about the once taken for granted work-life balance. Daily exercise is massively important to maintain an adequate level of cardiovascular health, but it is also a huge boost for mental health and overall mood and alertness. A drop-in activity in Ireland’s working population will likely produce a spike in cardiovascular health complications, a burden on the healthcare system that is far from desired at this point as we enter the second lockdown in Dublin.

Tara Curran, the physical activity coordinator at the IHF, said sitting at work all day can;

“increase a person’s risk of heart disease and stroke”.

We may not see a return to normality until next year given the spike in cases around Europe of late, and so it is more important than ever that individuals are prioritising their health over everything else at this stage. Movement should be a mandatory part of your day, specifically if you’re working from home. That said, when we’re at home, we have no real need to move much. Trips to the shop on lunch breaks are less frequent, especially for those who don’t need to wear normal office attire when working from their own residence. The lines are blurred, we no longer get up to walk to a colleague’s desk, it’s all online, and it is having a detrimental effect. 

Fitness expert Karl Henry emphasised the need to move regularly to counteract the negative effects of sitting down;

“Being physically active can release endorphins that can help relieve stress, boost mood, and improve self-esteem,”

A pandemic is likely something that very few members of the Irish population anticipated encountering during their lives, but it is now our reality. The paranoia and panic that have arisen are having a negative effect on people’s mood and stress levels, making exercise even more important. Accountability is the only way to make progress and look after yourself. Avoid long periods sitting down. Take breaks. Get fresh air. Look after yourself.