Over half of remote workers are now sitting down for almost three hours longer each day

Working from home survey prompts warnings of higher risk of stroke and heart disease

The Irish Heart Foundation said more than  53 per cent of those surveyed were  sitting down for  an average of two hours and 40 minutes longer per day than when in their usual place of work.  Photograph: Getty Images

The Irish Heart Foundation said more than 53 per cent of those surveyed were sitting down for an average of two hours and 40 minutes longer per day than when in their usual place of work. Photograph: Getty Images

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More than half of people working from home in Ireland are sitting down for an average of two hours and 40 minutes longer per day than when they were working in an office, a new survey has found.

The findings have prompted warnings to this new cohort of Covid-19 pandemic home workers of increased risk of stroke and heart disease.

The Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) commissioned the survey carried out by Ipsos MRBI, which interviewed 1,007 people by phone.

It found that more than half of all workers surveyed have been able to work from home since coronavirus restrictions began, with 53 per cent of them sitting down for longer than when in their office or usual place of work.

The research conducted between August 1st and 10th also found that one in four of those who are sitting for longer are remaining sedentary for at least three hours more than previously.

‘Crucial’

John Barton, a consultant cardiologist, told The Irish Times that “if you don’t exercise, you’re looking for trouble”. He said that remaining active is “crucial” for overall health.

“You’ve got to work exercise into your day. I’ve a treadmill at home that I used during Covid-19,” Mr Barton said. Exercise is “ very, very good for cardiovascular health, mental health, maintaining a normal weight, and helping to prevent cancers. There’s a link between obesity and cancers,” he said.

Tara Curran, physical activity co-ordinator at the IHF, said sitting at work all day can “increase a person’s risk of heart disease and stroke”.

“As working from home and video meetings become the norm, workers are increasingly tied to their laptops for hour after hour,” Ms Curran said. “We are urging them to get up and move regularly during their working day and would like to see employers make an effort to shorten meeting times on video conferencing.”

Move a minute

The survey is part of IHF’s Escape Your Chair Heart Month campaign, supported by the HSE, which calls on the nation to get up and move for a minute each hour during the day.

Fitness expert Karl Henry emphasised the need to move regularly to counteract the negative effects of sitting down.

“Being physically active can release endorphins that can help relieve stress, boost mood, and improve self-esteem,” he said. “When we find ourselves in a stressful situation at work, a quick stroll can help clear our heads while also helping our hearts and reducing our sitting time.”

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