How about some danger pay?

A team of Swedish researchers has ruined my week.

Clearly bored during their long winter, they got into hair-splitting semantics. "Torell, do you think that doing nothing is the same as not doing something?" asked Elin, as they toyed with their pickled herring in the canteen of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. "I don’t know Elin, but it would be fun to find out!" cried Torell.

So Elin Ekblom-Bak gathered together his team, and put the new project up on the whiteboard: "A new paradigm of inactivity physiology," he wrote.

To cut a long story short, it would have been better for the peace of mind of everyone who works behind a desk if Ekblom-Bak had taken his team to an Ingmar Bergman festival instead.

Because what they have found, is that there is indeed a difference between doing nothing, and not doing something. Not taking any exercise does, as we know, end in cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity etc.

But the Swedes have found that in addition, the actual act of sitting down for long periods, as you may be doing right now, carries independent risks of those lifestyle diseases.

Prolonged sitting may, they said, actually be even riskier than not getting exercise, even if you punctuate your sitting with the odd bout of activity. 'Sedentary time should be defined as muscular inactivity rather than the absence of exercise,' they concluded.

'We need to consider that we are dealing with two distinct behaviours and their effects.' Read the story here.

I know it's confusing. But the message is that all of us whose jobs entail being behind a desk all day, are probably entitled to danger pay.

Point is, desk workers of the world ought to look for exercise-opportunities the way our forbears looked for berries. Grab one whenever you see one. As a team, Health24 sets out on a mission every now and again to look for new ways to get some action: maybe there’s something here that blows your hair back .

(Heather Parker, Health24, January 2010)

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