Australian workers urged to stand up for their health

by Tiffany Paczek
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Physical activity is the key to a healthy and enjoyable life, yet one in two Australian workers spend 55 percent of the day seated and on average 22 hours behind a desk each week.

Prolonged sitting and a lack of physical activity takes an immense toll on our bodies and are associated with a wide range of health problems, including premature degeneration of spinal discs, inflammation of joints, connective tissues and nerves.

Painful back and neck problems are also likely results of continually sitting with a poor posture or awkward sitting postures, which if left unresolved, can become chronic conditions. With just one in three (30 percent) Australians achieving the recommended amount of physical activity per week, it’s little wonder that 70 to 90 percent will suffer from lower back pain at some point in their lives.

Sydney-based osteopath, Edward Clark, says that although physical activity amongst Australian workers is slowly improving, too many of us are still spending most of our working day sitting at a desk without any active movement.

“Back problems are the third leading cause of disease burden in Australia and we still face the issue of a majority of Australian workers having sedentary jobs and sitting for most of their working day.

“The way we work is unlikely to change in the near future and as health professionals, we need to be vigilant about promoting health and making recommendations to all Australians, particularly sedentary working Australians, such as taking small breaks to stretch our limbs and joints,” he says.

“Some work places now offer sit-stand desks and while these may not suit everyone, they do offer a means to negate some of the effects of sitting all day. While other offices have activity programs like in-house yoga or group fitness programs, which not only negate some of the effects of sedentariness, but may also boost productivity in the workforce,” Clark says.

Osteopathy focuses on how your skeleton, joints, muscles, nerves and circulation work together to reduce pain and risk of injury, while improving your overall health and well-being. Osteopaths can also provide education and advice regarding workplace ergonomics, promoting healthy postural movement behaviours and prescribing exercises that can be easily performed at home or work, and can be contacted without a GP or specialist referral.

Clark also believes that osteopathy is a great place to start when seeking pain relief.

“Osteopaths don’t only look at the point of pain, they take a ‘whole of body’ approach. Workplace environment and stresses may also be accessed to provide a mix of treatments.

“Australians need to be mindful of spending too much time behind the desk and learn the best activities and practices to maintain a healthy, comfortable workplace environment,” Clark says.

During October’s National Safe Work Month, Osteopathy Australia is encouraging Australians to incorporate simple movements such as stretching, standing up, walking meetings, changing postures regularly and micro-breaks into their working day to reduce the risk of developing a chronic pain problem, or a work-related musculoskeletal complaint.

For more information on Osteopathy or to find your nearest osteopath go to www.osteopathy.org.au.

Image: 123RF’s comzeal © 123RF

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