Fitness is the key to career success

Raiysa Zuwairiyah | Published: October 04, 2018 14:04:08 | Updated: October 06, 2018 19:01:02

Photo collected from internet has been used for representational purpose only

"Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live," said Jim Rohn. This quote from Jim is what this generation often misses. Usually, it is the long working hours that do not let them pay attention to their health and fitness.

A typical workday for most office jobs includes copious amounts of time sitting at a desk. In Bangladesh, the public sector requires daily nine hours of office work, minimum five days a week. Banking transaction hours are 10 am to 4 pm. Private sector jobs usually have more than 40-hour workweek. There is always another report to write, data to review and meeting to attend. Over the years, for people in such careers, the hours of sitting at a desk add up. This causes many different health problems. "I am getting prolonged periods of a backache because I have to stay seated for long hours at my desk," said Touhid Islam, business consultant at a growing software development company in Dhaka.

The first known discovery of sedentary behaviour, which is defined as 'any waking behaviour characterised by an energy expenditure while in a sitting or reclining posture', being related to health problems was from a study done by Morris and Colleagues in the 1950s. The participants were London bus drivers, who were bounded by their profession to be seated for most of their day, and bus conductors, who moved around to do their jobs. The bus drivers notably had more reported cases of cardiovascular diseases, compared to bus conductors.

A study was done by Loughborough University and the University of Leicester on 800,000 participants to analyse the impacts of long working hours on the health of an individual. They discovered that people who spent more extended hours in sedentary behaviour had a 112 per cent more risk of diabetes, 147 per cent increase in cardiovascular activities, 90 per cent increase in death caused by cardiovascular problems and a 49 per cent increase in mortality by any cause when compared to people who spent the least time in sedentary behaviour. Other reported health effects include a higher risk of developing dementia, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Obesity due to reduced metabolism is also a risk of sitting down for too long.

Another study reported that adults spend 65 to 82 per cent of their working time in a seated position. Moreover, for most adults, it is not possible to give up their work schedule in favour of potential health risks. In reality, some simple measures could remarkably decrease the rates of health problems in people with desk jobs.

The American federal guidelines for exercise states that a 30-minute workout per day can be beneficial for health. The 30-minute can be spread throughout the day. Professor Stuart Biddle, who led the national guidelines for Australia on reducing sitting, says people who take regular exercise may still be broadly sedentary. It is known as the Active Couch Potato phenomenon, where a person exercises once a day then spends the rest of the time seated. That still does nothing to reduce health risks, and so it is recommended to be in movement throughout the day at regular intervals.

However, on a busy workday, that could prove difficult. Nevertheless, extensive sedentary behaviour also leads to decreased productivity and brainpower. Therefore, to achieve more during the day, it is necessary to get some physical activities done. To beat such inertia, Sundar Pichai, the chief executive officer of Google, said, "I do a lot of meetings where I walk with people. I love to pace, and it's easier for me to think."

"Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body; it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity," said John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States of America.

Aerobic exercises, also known as 'cardio', is recommended to reduce the chances of heart diseases from desk jobs. 30 minutes a day, five days a week, is the recommended time. Stretching is another exercise that makes people more flexible and thus reduces the inertia of wanting to be seated all the time.

A study has shown that extensive strength training can drastically improve people's health and lifespan.

Waking up early and exercising can improve overall productivity and health. Michelle Obama, the former First Lady of the United States, wakes up at four thirty in the morning and exercises every single day. Bill Gates exercises for at least one hour in the morning, maintaining incredible fitness at this age. Tony Burch, a fashion designer with a net worth of 800 million USD, wakes up at 5:45 am, immediately checks her work emails, gets her three boys out of bed, and does 45 minutes of exercising.

Everyone in their daily lives can take inspiration from these exemplary successful people who have maintained physical fitness alongside their hectic schedules.

The writer is a first year student of BBA programme at Institute of Business Administration (IBA), University of Dhaka. She can be reached at

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