Office workers glued to their computer screen for hours at a time are actually at greater risk of deadly blood clots developing in their legs than long-distance air travellers are. This statement is really not as startling as it may sound. After all, workers sitting at their desks for hours on end far outnumber international travellers at any given time.
A study in New Zealand shows that one third of all patients admitted to hospital for a blood clot had remained in a sitting position for a long period of time at work.
Deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot forms in a deep vein of the legs. This condition can be deadly if part of the clot breaks off and lodges itself in a blood vessel in the lungs. DVTs are often associated with long-distance air travel in economy class because the seats are so cramped and close together that there usually is not enough room for travellers to stretch and move around.
Researchers were surprised to find that a great number of workers put in 12 to 14 uninterrupted hours, remaining seated the entire time. Some of the workers who had a DVT had been sitting for three to four hours in a row without ever standing up. Workers most often hit by DVTs toil in the information technology industry and in call centres.
We can prevent DVTs by standing and walking around a little bit every hour or so. It is also recommended you drink the equivalent of six to eight glasses of water a day to prevent dehydration. Because smoking increases the risk of blood clots, smokers are encouraged to quit the nasty habit. Furthermore, women who are taking oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy at menopause are at greater risk for DVTs.
Although our careers and lifestyles have become more sedentary, our bodies were not designed to be inactive. Of course switching jobs is not really an option. But at least take a few minutes to stand up, stretch and walk around a little. And why not take advantage of coffee breaks to relax or have lunch with your colleagues and go for a little walk. You will feel refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of the day!