Body & Fitness

What you

Sitting at a desk all day has been linked to a variety of health problems – and not just obvious ones such as sore backs and weight-gain. Here’s why it’s a good idea to get up from your desk and move around regularly.

Bowel cancerResearch has shown that people who work for 10 or more years in jobs that involve sitting for hours on end may double their risk of bowel cancer. It’s thought this may be due to prolonged sitting, increasing blood sugar levels and affecting the body’s production of insulin – both of which have been linked to bowel cancer. Another theory is it causes inflammation inside the body, which increases the risk of tumours.

Deep-vein thrombosisThe formation of blood clots in veins – commonly known as DVT – can be deadly if the clots dislodge and move to other parts of the body, like the lungs. Caused by being immobile for long periods of time, it’s often associated with passengers who’ve been on long-haul flights, but people with desk jobs may also be vulnerable.

Studies done last year by the oedical Research Institute of New Zealand found that sitting at a desk without moving for 10 hours a day was a major risk factor. Make sure you get up to stretch your legs once an hour.

DehydrationIf you’re not getting up from your desk very often, chances are you’re not drinking enough fluid to stay hydrated. You could end up having headaches, concentration difficulties and dizziness. Air conditioning and heating can make symptoms worse, and dry out your skin and eyes. Keeping pot plants on your desk can help increase humidity around you.

Posture problemsIf you have a habit of slouching at your desk you could end up with rounded shoulders, which can strain muscles. It can also lead to a pot belly – you don’t use your abdominal muscles when you slump, so you can lose strength and tone. Practise sitting up at your desk – notice how this pulls your tummy in.

PilesSitting for long periods of timeis thought to be one of the contributing factors towards piles, or haemorrhoids. It can put pressure on the veins of the anus, making them bulge and expand. They can be very painful and uncomfortable, especially when you’re sitting.

If you get piles, make sure you don’t twist your body while sitting to avoid pain – this can lead to back problems.

**Health watch

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  • Patients with severe angina have been given new hope with the injection of stem cells. Researchers in Chicago injected volunteers with stem cells from their own blood and reported fewer episodes of severe pain. They also found that when they did have pain, it was much easier to tolerate.

  • And now for something from the “Did we really need to know this?” file – US researchers have found 1400 different strains of bacteria lurking in human bellybuttons. over 600 strains were previously unrecognised, and of those that were identified, some are the sort you’d normally expect to find in places like soil or the ocean.

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