THREE CHEERS for the water cooler : As companies struggle to find the right balance between in-person and remote work and workers fight for autonomy, the debate about returning to in-person work has largely focused on productivity.

If employees are equally productive in remote settings, why ask them to return to the office? All things being equal, remote work is cheaper and more convenient than commuting.

Although productivity is important, we haven't given sufficient consideration to the potential negative health effects of remote work for some people. Those who have the luxury of working from home might end up realizing that remote work is disadvantageous to their mental and physical well-being.

A recent compilation of evidenced-based studies investigating the mental and physical effects of remote work found mixed results. 

Some workers thrived in the remote environment, citing more time for healthy behaviours, including exercising and bonding with family, while others became less active, gained weight and reported feelings of isolation and depression.

MUCH of this relates to evolutionary biology. Despite the changes happening around us, our bodies remain the same.

Human bodies have been in their current form for roughly 300,000 years. Humans need to move.

Strong evidence correlates increased movement with a reduced risk of developing cardiovascular conditions such as hypertension and high cholesterol, chronic diseases such as diabetes and certain types of cancer, mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety.

The more we move, the healthier we are. Moving every day doesn't just make us feel better; it's among the most far-reaching and effective forms of preventing medicine. Furthermore, sedentary activity is strongly linked to disease.

More sitting time and less movement throughout the day can make a person less healthy. Both life expectancy [life span] and health profile [health span] are negatively affected by prolonged inactivity.

Despite incredible technological advances, the human body has basically required the same amount of movement for preventive health for more than 100,000 years. Unfortunately, technology and convenience often work against our health.

With each technological victory, from the horse and buggy to the car, the airplane, the computer and now the smartphone, we move less. In today's world, one can order meals, conduct relationships and even work while never taking a step.

Studies of age-matched skeletons exhumed from the Industrial Revolution - when people walked and moved more - show less knee arthritis than kees of today.

The past three years have rapidly accelerated this trend. Data on step counts during the pandemic have shown a decrease in NEAT behaviour [ nonexercise activity thermogenesis ], daily steps from everyday living.

These aren't steps from exercise; they are steps from walking to the subway or through the parking lot. While much attention is paid to exercise as a way of staving off aging and disease, NEAT behaviors are also linked to disease prevention.

Background steps add up over days, weeks and months. Although daily exercise is part of a healthy movement profile, the NEAT activities are the coals that keep the metabolic fire warm.

The Publishing continues into the future. The World Students Society thanks author Jordan D. Metzi.


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