Take Heed: Here’s How Any Old Office Job Can Shorten Your Lifespan

As we transitioned from factory and farming jobs to knowledge work in cubicle labyrinths, we’d like to think we did away with much of the danger associated with work. No one in a desk job was ever obliterated by an out-of-control wheat thresher or stirred into a giant vat of boiling industrial cleaning product. The sense of security we have in our safe and sanitized office jobs is misplaced, however.

Here is a list of ways that your office job is slowly, subtly, killing you.


1. Commuting by car.

Although the fatal road collision statistics have steadily fallen over the years, car accidents remain among the top ten causes of death in Canadian men and woman (at 6th and 8th place, respectively). Advances in automobile safety technology, along with stricter enforcement of speeding and drunk driving laws, have mitigated much of the deadly chaos on Canada’s roadways, but police say distracted driving habits are beginning to make car travel less safe.

“Everybody’s life is so much faster-paced now,” York regional police Staff Sgt. Brad Bulmer told Canada.com. “I catch women doing makeup, men shaving while they’re driving, and working on spreadsheets. People still think the car is an appropriate space to conduct business.”

The fact remains that driving to work puts you at a greater risk of dying of unnatural causes, particularly if you or your fellow drivers bring office work into the car.


2. Sitting all day.

A slew of fairly recent articles and infographics claiming that beyond having a sedentary lifestyle, prolonged sitting can demonstrably shorten your life.

According to Medical Billing & Coding, the source of the virally shared data, the harmful effects of sitting are immune to exercise, and sitting at home to watch teevee after an exhausting day of sitting makes sitters 64% more likely to die of heart disease. Holy sit.


3. Eating out at lunch.

The daily office lunch ritual has become a well-loved tradition. Roving bands of office workers break off into groups, and scour the landscape in search of sauce-rich trough food and five dollar footlongs.

It’s no secret that fast food is bad for you; restaurant food, apart from being high in salt, sodium, fat, cholesterol, and delicious delicious bacon, is more dense than regular home-prepared food. Because our portion sizes stay the same, this added density causes us to consume more calories than we need. Excess calories are stored as fat, fat causes heart disease, and heart disease causes dead office workers. It’s nature’s way.


4. Making copies.

A recent study explored by Time Magazine finds that a third of the printers scientists study emit potentially hazardous particles of toner ink which, when inhaled, may be as dangerous as cigarette smoke. Possibly. They don’t know. And, as is the case with any initial study that hasn’t been peer reviewed, the findings should be taken with a grain of salt.

HP certainly wasn’t impressed with the study’s findings, and other experts say that sampling office air pollution to determine health risks is in early days. Still, it’s enough to make you think twice before inhaling that wondrous printer ink smell from a freshly Xerox’d stack of quarterly reports.


5. Bored at work.

Is work getting you down? Find a way to make it more exciting, or your job may get you six feet down—into your grave. A study on boredom from University College London asked people to report their levels of boredom, and then followed up a decade later to see who was still alive.

Those who reported frequent ennui in the initial survey were more likely to die young. The study admits that boredom may be an indicator of other harmful and life-threatening behaviours like drinking and doing drugs, but it’s enough to give you pause for thought. Now managers can say with statistical certainty, “File those TPS reports pronto, and do it with a smile on your face… if you want to live to see your next birthday.”


6. Working Late.

Putting in long hours at the office may not be directly responsible for your death, but workaholism goes hand-in-hand with other harmful behaviours that speed your trip to tomb town.

Citing a study from the University of Illinois, The Atlantic reports that people who work late smoke more cigarettes, exercise less, and pay fewer visits to the doctor.

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