American Workers Now Burn 140 Fewer Calories

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The nature of the American job has become so sedentary that Americans are now burning 140 calories less than they would have been in a typical job five decades ago.

Physical activity during the workday has been declining since 1960, corresponding with the nation's steady weight gain since that time, according to a new sweeping review reported in the New York Times Well blog.

In 1960, jobs requiring moderate physical activity accounted for 50 percent of the labor market; now they account for just 20 percent.

The remaining 80 percent of jobs are sedentary or require only light activity.

The study's findings could put some new pressure on employers to step up workplace health initiatives and pay more attention to physical activity at work. [VIDEO: How NBC is Going Healthy]

"If we're going to try to get to the root of what's causing the obesity epidemic, work-related physical activity needs to be in the discussion," Dr. Timothy Church, the study's lead author, told the Times. "There are a lot of people who say it's all about food. But the work environment has changed so much we have to rethink how we're going to attack this problem."

An epidemiologist added, "We need to think about physical activity as a more robust concept than just recreational physical activity. In many ways we've engineered physical activity out of our lives, so we've got to find ways to put it back into our lives, like taking walks during breaks or having opportunities for activity that are more route to our daily lives, not just going to the health club," said Dr. Ross Brownson.

Employers do have the power to increase the physical activity of their employees by offering subsidized gym memberships or incentives to use public transit, says the Times. They can also resdesign offices to encouraging walking, by placing printers away from desks and encouraging face-to-face communication, rather than email.

How do you try to "go healthy" at your workplace?


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