Whilst the advantages of working from home are obvious, from our increased freedom in managing our lives to the time saved in commuting between work and home (to which can be linked a significant reduction in emissions), remote working carries the risk of exacerbating a trend which has already become evident over the past decades in Italy: that of an increasingly sedentary lifestyle.
Especially during periods in which restrictions prevent people from going out, many people's lives have been reduced to shuttling between their bed, their work desk and their sofa. The consequences of this lifestyle in terms of their mental and physical health can be severe, as can be read in the Strategic Plan for the reduction in sedentary lifestyles put together by BikeItalia and by Bikenomist.
Minimum standards of movement
A person is considered to have a sedentary lifestyle when they do not meet the basic standards of movement, as set out by the World Health Organisation and by other entities as being a minimum of two and a half hours per week of aerobic physical activity of moderate intensity (a walk, a light run or a cycle ride) and of two sessions of strength training for the principal muscle groups.
Some of them consider that it is also necessary for an additional one hundred minutes of high-intensity exercise, subject clearly to everyone's individual abilities, and at least one session to improve your mobility.
Compensating for inactivity
Furthermore, the limited appetite for movement and effort on the part of a sedentary person constitutes a vicious circle, because the minimum requirements set out in the guidelines are insufficient to compensate for their hours of lack of physical activity. As can be read in the Plan from BikeItalia and Bikenomist, for example, one hour of moderate physical activity will not be enough to compensate for the effects of spending five hours sitting in front of a computer. For this reason, as well as playing a sport or at least finding some other way of exercising before and after work, it would also be important to insert several active breaks into your working day.
The numbers and the damage caused by a sedentary lifestyle
A sedentary way of life is a wide-ranging problem: cross-referenced statistics produced throughout the world speak of a potential 25 per cent of the adult population having a lifestyle of this type, especially in industrialised countries. The damage is enormous: it is estimated that 6 per cent of global mortality is caused by a sedentary lifestyle (in Italy it is nearly 15%, according to research quoted in the report), which is directly linked world-wide to over three million deaths connected to a huge variety of chronic pathologies, from diabetes to heart attacks, and from metabolic syndromes to obesity. To this can be added the economic harm, since for the treatments linked to these problems the expense incurred is enormous, whether it be for the public or the private sector.
Breaking down the barriers to sport
For all these reasons it is of critical importance to increase the awareness of the benefits of exercise and sports, as early as infancy, when a child's movement is even more important for their correct mental and physical development. This awareness-raising work needs to be accompanied by the breaking down of the barriers to physical activity, which, depending on the individual, can be the absence of time or motivation, the difficulties of doing something regularly, the distance they live away from sports facilities (or the lack of them), or underlying physical problems. A physically active community will certainly enjoy a better life from a physical, mental and social point of view.