THE LEVEL – The remote office comes equipped with a lot of challenges. Chief among them is the fact that they don’t come equipped with an “off” button.
For millions of Americans, the pandemic’s resurgence signals extended work-from-home mandates. That can spell longer-term trouble ahead for many, according to health experts. They worry that left untapped, excess eating and drinking will contribute to much larger and long-lasting chronic conditions from Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure to substance abuse.
On average, Americans have extended their average workday by 40%, adding an additional three hours of sedentary time to their day.
It’s a natural response, according to Rachel Goldman, a licensed psychologist and clinical assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at New York’s University’s Grossman School of Medicine, in an interview with Today.
“Psychologically, we feel like we are not working as hard when we work from home,” says Goldman, who notes that people tend to compensate by amping-up our work-hours. This, in turn, leads to even less time devoted to taking regular breaks, preparing healthy meals and getting daily exercise.
Many newly remote workers tend to eat at their desks, according to experts who recommend that people refrain from eating and conducting other work activities from our work areas. Easier said than done for many. Ask any remote worker whose kitchen island doubles as their work area.
While we cannot completely divorce ourselves from our desks and related professional responsibilities, we do need to disconnect ourselves from them on a more regular basis throughout the day. Omitting healthy activities from our daily lives is costly and counterproductive.
Decreases in physical activity are contributing to increased levels of depression, according to a new study from UCL researchers, who found that people with low aerobic and muscular fitness are nearly twice as likely to experience depression.
Reduced fitness levels are an early predictor of anxiety levels, which are 60% higher among the less fit, according to findings published in BMC Medicine.
Exercise is a great escape, according to experts, who say the majority of us are getting in too little of it. Good physical health contributes to better mental health, according to the studies lead author, Aaron Kandola, a PhD student at UCL.
The differences among study participants was stark.
Even after accounting for pre-existing factors like diet, socioeconomic status, chronic and mental illness, researchers found people with the lowest combined aerobic and muscular fitness had 98% higher odds of depression, 60% higher odds of anxiety and 81% higher odds of having either one of the common mental health disorders compared to those with high levels of overall fitness.
Although it’s not realistic to completely shut down a home office, it is imperative to find ways to stand up and move.
Exercise provides a great way to separate our work hours from our home lives, particularly in remote office environments lacking physical boundaries.
Even just a few weeks of regular intensive exercise can make substantial improvements to aerobic and muscular fitness, reducing depression risks.
Step away from the desk.
Editor’s Note: The research involved academics at UCL, King’s College London and Harvard University,.