No it has nothing to do with radio waves, magnetic fields, or any other obvious way we thought technology could kill us. It’s getting to your body in a very slow, stealthy way and you won’t even realise it. What’s more, new evidence claims that it doesn’t matter how healthy you are for the rest of your life.
All this health kick from Apple, Google et al. is all well and good but it doesn’t help the fact that technology is helping to secretly shorten your life by making you sedentary. I bet you wouldn’t even know it would you? Lifting weights a couple of times a week, even a jog on the weekends. Unfortunately, current research suggests even that doesn’t make a difference.
Insert Dramatic Music
Now technological advances are not the big bad wolf here, they have enabled our lives to be much easier, more enjoyable, and much safer. What is the real issue is the cultural shift that’s been enabled and sometime encouraged by Silicon Valley’s explosion. Technological advancements are the single underlying factor that has made humans less active in their lives.
This is most apparent whilst working; jobs are much more sedentary. These ‘sedentary types’ of jobs have increased by 83% since 1950 (American Heart Association). It’s no coincidence as the increase in technology and computing available in the workplace started in the 50’s. We are not just talking about computers, however the strange correlation happened around 1951 with the first commercially successful electronic computer, UNIVAC. There has also been a decrease in manual jobs due to the robotisation of many manufacturing and production lines.
Parked At The Office
According to research by Sanlam Private Investments, those of us with an ‘office job’ spend up to five years of our lives at a desk. With most spending anywhere up to 8 hours a day seated, other than the occasional trip to the printer or out for lunch. This only continues at clocking off time, spending anything up to 2 hours on public transport or driving. You can relax when you get home though, to our modern luxurious house filled with entertainment to keep you nice and relaxed seated.
The normal day is now so inactive we are not only struggling to keep up with the obesity levels, but both the physical and mental stress is killing us slowly. We have cut around 300 calories out of our working day according to Dr John Buckley, programme leader in cardiovascular rehabilitation at the University of Chester. Over a year that equates to around 26 lbs of fat, but some pudge around the middle is the least of your worries.
It’s Killing You
Slowly but surely things for your body start to look worse. A study from the journal Circulation: Heart Failure has revealed that those who sit for more than five hours a day have an increased risk of around 34% of heart failure. This is despite how much exercise they might do outside of those hours sitting. This doesn‘t even take into consideration the increased levels of depression and insomnia, along with higher risks of developing some pretty life limiting conditions including diabetes and cancer. Take stock of that if you are one of the average people that spend more than 9 hours seated. Even if you have an active job; sitting for long periods of time surfing the internet, watching TV, or even playing games is simply not good for your body.
Keep Google Fit
I could go into the details of how the sitting position is just not natural for your body, the anatomical reasons for the pressure on the spine and digestive system. But this is a technology editorial. So the facts are these: You’re sitting down too much! Too much of your beloved tech is focused on keeping you seated in front of a screen engaged with it.
What’s more is no amount of good feeling you get from pounding the treadmill after work, getting your Google Fit goals, or even doing your steps for the day is going to change that. You’re going to have to change yourself. Many don’t even realise they are seated so long. The solution is a simple one: Stand Up.
Lets get this straight, I love technology. I’m what you could describe of an evangelist. I spend the majority of my day preaching to those less able about access to technology. Technology is so brilliant and so wondrous it deserves to be used. It’s simply a case of making your usage as active as possible.
Simple things can make a world of difference, you won’t even notice the difference if you try it. The future you might come back and thank me though so please do if we ever invent time travel. Most of us are not in a position to get everyone using stand up desks so the changes we make might have to be a lot smaller. Just walking around whilst reading some of the daily social media intake and standing at lunch are a few easy fixes. I’m pretty sure you can be creative about slotting those active hours back into your day.
One bit of feedback I have made to Google is to include alarms if you are sitting still for a preset period of time in order to encourage a little activity during the day. This functionality is already available in some other smart watches and fitness trackers. The Fitness goal of 10,000 steps should not be the end all, and these steps should be evenly spread. It’s no good doing 8,000 in the morning and sitting for 6 hours.