Teleworking: 5 tips to combat sedentary lifestyles

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We sit more than 7.5 hours a day!

And teleworking doesn't help...

Of course, having 2/3 days of telecommuting is great.

But here's the problem: we're even more sedentary than before!

So, to avoid this, here are our simple exercises and tips.

I promise, no complicated sports here... Simple, we tell you!

Teleworking: the risk of a sedentary lifestyle

Telecommuting has come into its own since the Covid health crisis.

Containment, which led to its use, is no more, but telecommuting remains.

More than ever before, employees are in favor of it, and it's an expected standard.

According to an Insee study (March 2023), nearly one employee in five teleworked in 2022.

If you look at the graph above, you'll see its upward trend since 2019.

Even if there is a downturn in some sectors, the overall trend is one of steady growth in all Western countries.

And for France in particular, here are a few details:

The problem is that while telecommuting brings undeniable advantages, such as time savings, it also has its drawbacks, and even real dangers.

In fact, telecommuting promotes unhealthy habits:  

"At a distance, we tend to adopt a much more sedentary lifestyle. We no longer walk to catch public transport, we generally start our days earlier, we no longer walk to a colleague's office to discuss a file, we often have lunch in front of the computer at lunchtime..." warns Dr Céline Dagrenat, occupational physician at CMIE, one of France's largest inter-company occupational health services (SIST).

We'll snack, eat too quickly...

Danone Institute


Among the many things to watch out for: the danger of a sedentary lifestyle.

What is a sedentary lifestyle?

If you haven't yet read our full article on the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle, I urge you to do so.

A quick reminder:

- Definition:

Any lifestyle involving little or no physical movement or activity.  

Or more precisely: a "situation of wakefulness characterized by an energy expenditure close to the resting energy expenditure in a seated or lying position (...) It thus corresponds to the time spent in a seated or lying position during the day, excluding sleep time ; whether in the workplace or at school, during motorized transport journeys, or during leisure activities, particularly in front of screens" according to theONAPS (Observatoire national de l'activité physique et de la sédentarité).

Anyone who sits for 7 hours a day or more is sedentary...

To go further, let's compare sedentary lifestyles and physical activity:

But our bodies and minds are not made for sitting for hours on end, in front of a computer or lying on a sofa.

Remember: a healthy body is a body in motion!

According to specialists, a sedentary lifestyle is the new scourge of the century.

The Americans say: "sitting is the new smoking"! Sitting is as bad as smoking...

"Studies show that a sedentary lifestyle has become the world's leading cause of avoidable death. It's more serious than tobacco. A sedentary lifestyle kills more than tobacco. And it's particularly linked to screens," says Paul Menu, cardiac surgeon and member of the French Federation of Cardiology.

A sedentary lifestyle has become as commonplace as smoking once was.

A veritable health time bomb...

The proof? Just figures :

- According toANSES (the French health and safety agency), 95% of French people are exposed to a sedentary lifestyle.

- 3.2 million deaths/year worldwide caused by a sedentary lifestyle (sitting for more than 3 hours a day is responsible for 3.8% of all deaths).

- Multiplication (X 2) of cardiovascular risks, musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), type 2 diabetes, blood circulation problems, etc.

- The risk of mortality increases with more than 7h/day of sedentary activity.

A sedentary lifestyle is the main risk factor for musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs ). They have numerous negative consequences for both employees and the company (reduced energy, suffering, lower productivity, sick leave, etc.).

It also increases the risk of diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. Not to mention the effect on mental health when you're cooped up at home for hours on end...

Cardiologist Claire Mounier-Vehier notes: "more weight gain, more stress too, and, frequently, imbalances observed in treatments, especially those for high blood pressure" since the confinement.

The infographic below gives you a detailed list of the benefits of regular physical activity, the antithesis of a sedentary lifestyle:


So what can you do to avoid falling into the sedentary trap?

Professor Claire Mounier Véhier offers a few tips:

"Get up and take a few steps for ten minutes every two hours. Drink, at least a liter and a half a day (and no super-sweet sodas!) and find time for a bit of exercise: if you live upstairs, for example, climb the stairs several times a day (...) allow yourself a little nap on this teleworking day, for a quarter of an hour, which puts everything back in place (...) work standing up, get up to make phone calls."

We sum it all up in 5 commandments

5 commandments for regular exercise

If you're not a regular sportsman, you're bound to need a little routine to avoid the risks of a sedentary lifestyle.

And if you're an occasional sportsman... Also!

Because " health rhymes with regularity. (...) people think that playing tennis for two hours on the weekend is enough, but that's not true. You need at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. Dr Yannick Guillodo, sports physician in Brest.

- 1st commandment: to free up your time, you'll get organized

"If you don't block a one-hour slot in your diary to go and do sport, your employer won't do it for you," says Dr. Céline Dagrenat. Especially if you work from home!

- 2nd commandment: get up every 2h00 and move for 5 minutes every 30min, you won't forget...

That's the optimal routine, according to the researchers.

Or you can: "cut out 5 minutes at least every hour for walking", recommends Claire Mounier-Vehier, cardiologist at Lille University Hospital.

Example : go for a 5, 10 or 20-minute walk in the morning and evening. Before and after work or when you take a break...

- 3rd Commandment: Thou shalt walk 10,000 steps a day

It's not me who recommends it, it's theWorld Health Organization (WHO)!

So keep in mind that your day needs to be interspersed with breaks for walking...

Examples: Climb the stairs several times, walk the dog, walk to get your bread, stand up for phone calls and talk while walking, etc.

Find every possible excuse, but walk!

- Commandment4: Change your posture often

We're telling you again! Stand up...

Don't sit all day, don't remain static at your desk. You need to work seated and then work standing up on raised desks.  

Alternate your postures! Ideally, you should do this every half-hour...

- 5th commandment: take care of your sleep

Since you don't have to travel to work, you can use this time-saving for your sleep.

No, don't go to bed too late: sleep 7 to 9 hours a night.

Don't work in bed and avoid screens before going to sleep... A book is better!

And if you can, read our article on how to get fit at the office or at home.

Let's go and apply the 5 tips. I'm counting on you!

If you can, please reread this article regularly... (And the others!)

Vary between face-to-face and teleworking, or why not try coworking?

In the meantime, I wish you all the best for regular physical and mental fitness.

See you soon...

By Edmond Kean

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