HEALTH BITES

Office workers should stand up 2 hours a day to avoid health problems

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 June, 2015, 6:13am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 June, 2015, 2:37pm

Stand up during working hours: Office workers should be on their feet for at least two hours a day during working hours, recommends the first British guidance drawn up by a panel of international experts designed to curb the health risks of prolonged sitting. This should progress to four hours a day, breaking up prolonged periods of sitting with the use of sit-stand desks, standing-based work, and regular walkabouts, says the report in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. "For those working in offices, 65 per cent to 75 per cent of their working hours are spent sitting, more than half of which is prolonged periods of sustained sitting. The evidence is clearly emerging that a first 'behavioural' step could be simply to get people standing and moving more frequently as part of their working day," they say, adding that this is likely to be more achievable than targeted exercise. Recent research has linked prolonged sitting to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer. Some scientists even consider sitting more dangerous than smoking.

Sense of smell linked to lifespanYour nose may provide a clue to how long you'll live. In a recent study of the elderly aged over 65, those with a reduced ability to identify certain odours had an increased risk of dying during an average follow-up of four years. Published in the Annals of Neurology, the study found that 45 per cent of participants with the lowest scores on a 40-item smell test died during the follow-up, compared to 18 per cent of participants with the highest scores. The study's 1,169 subjects scratched and sniffed individual strips and chose the best answer from four items listed as multiple-choice. "This was a study of older adults - the question that remains is whether young to middle-aged adults with impaired smell identification ability are at high risk as they grow older," says lead author Dr Davangere Devanand of Columbia University.

What's lurking on your toothbrush?

Share a bathroom? There's a high chance your toothbrush is contaminated with someone else's faecal bacteria. A study by Quinnipiac University in Connecticut of its communal student bathrooms found that at least 60 per cent of the toothbrushes were contaminated with faecal bacteria - regardless of how they were stored - and there was an 80 per cent chance the bacteria came from another person. The concern, says researcher Lauren Aber, is that someone else's faecal material contains bacteria, viruses or parasites that are not part of your normal gut flora. The bathrooms in the study each had an average of 9.4 occupants. There were no differences in the effectiveness of the decontamination methods between cold water, hot water or rinsing with mouthwash. "Using a toothbrush cover doesn't protect it from bacteria, it actually creates an environment suited to growth by keeping bristles moist and not letting the head of the toothbrush dry out between uses," says Aber.