How would I develop health problems from accepting a telework job?
At some point, you may have heard someone in your life use the phrase that 'sitting is the new smoking'. This line often circulates in response to declining rates of smoking and the shift away from laborious, hands on jobs that often saw our ancestors spending hours in the fields working their crops. StatsCanada and researchers from the University of Waterloo both highlight the massive decrease in prevalence of smoking. Data shows rates have declined from over half of all Canadians in 1965 to only 15% in 2017.
That stands in direct contrast to the massive jump in sedentary behaviours over the decades. A jaw-dropping report by StatsCan indicates that 82.5% of Canadian adults do not meet the recommended physical activity guidelines of 150 minutes per week. To give you a bit of context, that is a paltry 21 minutes a day. Telework has incredible perks, but also comes with the cost of increasing sedentary behaviours in one's own home.
What does the science say on the dangers of extended sitting?
From 1998 to 2010, computer screen time increased five-fold as they were increasingly adopted across all aspects of life. This meant more sitting with shoulders hunched forward and eyes glued to the screen. Due to the position, sitting increases pressure on the low back by almost 90%, and with low back pain impacting 70-80% of Canadians at some point in their lives, this is a good place to start.
Back pain isn't the only risk of extended sitting with researchers connecting sedentary behaviour to increased risk of cancers. Not a small risk either with data from the HUNT study in Norway showing a 22% high risk of prostate cancer when sitting more than 8 hours a day. More sedentary men were at a 31% increased risk of colorectal cancer and a 45% higher risk of lung cancer.
The risks of sedentary behaviour and sitting don't stop there, having been associated with everything from dementia and diabetes to anxiety and blood clots. The risk of varicose veins also goes up as the contraction of leg muscles from walking about encourage circulation through blood vessels.
Are there any remedies to help prevent varicose veins?
Venaforce is an option that can be found in a tablet or liquid form for oral consumption, or a topical gel applied directly over the tissue. The reason it benefits the tissue is due to a compound known as aescin, aptly named as the main ingredient of Venaforce is horse chestnut, the latin of which is Aesculus hippocastanum.
As a combination of saponins, aescin provides the anti-inflammatory and anti-edematous actions of the herb. It has been shown to increase the tension of blood vessels like veins, which reduces the risk of them leaking fluid or developing faulty valves.
My job requires me to be at my home desk for long periods of time...what are my options?
- Many companies and governments have introduced grants or budgets for implementing various office pieces in the home. It may be worth considering whether you put some of that towards a standing desk as standing can burn anywhere from 20-100% more calories when compared to sitting. While this shift to standing can burn more calories, it also compresses the back and encourages fluid to gather in lower limbs, worsening varicose veins. If you do think about spending more time standing, exercise science groups encourage the use of orthotics or an anti-fatigue mat.
- Other options to consider are taking walking breaks, even around your apartment. A few minutes of walking every hour or so can actually increase your productivity and concentration.
- It's also important to schedule your lunch break away from your desk to create a sense of separation and give you another reason to get up and moving!
Are there any stretching routines for varicose veins?
A bit of focus on the calves can go a long way in supporting the prevention of varicose veins. The runner's stretch targets the calf muscles and Achilles tendon, contracting these tissues around the veins of the lower limbs. This circulates the blood through and reduces the risk of leaky valves leading to varicose veins.
If you begin to experience throbbing or swelling around the veins or a heavy feeling in your legs, it is worth having your primary care provider take a look. They can order imaging to rule out potentially severe conditions.
We highly encourage you to read some of our other articles including 'Support Stockings for Varicose Veins. How does that work?' and '5 Ways to Reduce Fluid Retention' where we have dedicated entire articles to exploring the impacts of varicose veins!