Some more happy studies landed on my cluttered desk this morning, but the good news is, despite their negative findings, we can learn from them not just to survive, but to live to screw up another day.
The findings, in a nutshell, are this:
- Being poor increases your chance of dying early by 19%.
- Being consistently lonely increases your chance of dying by 14%.
- Sitting too much, particularly when you are over the age of sixty, dramatically increases your chance of being disabled for activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing and walking.
This of course means that many of the injured workers we are funneling into permanent disability status are living on borrowed time. These studies show they should be dead already.
This doesn’t have ramifications just for injured workers, but also for the toiling office and cubicle dwellers who manage their claims. Let's face it. We sit a lot. We’re not rich. And nobody likes us. Statistically we should have all died last Tuesday, except we have too much crap to do.
In the study regarding loneliness and premature death, researchers reviewed survey responses from over 2,100 adults aged 55 or over. They found that “feeling lonely and isolated from others can lead to less restful, restorative sleep, raise blood pressure, cause morning increases in the stress hormone cortisol, increase depression and lower the overall feeling of living a meaningful life.”
In a culture where injured workers often find themselves feeling isolated and alone, that is a finding we should take note of.
It is another terrific argument for a successful Return to Function effort, if I do say so myself. It also speaks to our need to reach out to an injured workers' social network, to help make sure they are supported when they need it the most.
The study regarding sitting also is not a surprise – with the exception that it now has a name: Sitting Disease.
The study suggested that people who remain stationary for extended lengths may see increased risk of disability after the age of 60. Researchers found that “adults this age spend an average of two-thirds of their waking time being sedentary — roughly nine hours a day.” Dorothy Dunlop, professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and the lead researcher on the project, reported that “Every additional hour adults over age 60 spend sitting increases by 50% their risk of being disabled for activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing and walking.”
From the source article: “Research has linked too much sitting to increased risk of heart failure, type 2 diabetes and death from cancer, heart disease and stroke. It may affect mood and creativity. One study showed that if most people spent fewer than three hours a day sitting, it would add two years to the average life expectancy in this country.”
Another argument for making sure people stay as active as possible. I don't know about you, but I am going to go take the desk chairs away from every employee here that is over the age of 60. Their mood and creativity is not going to languish on their fat fannies. And I better check on Phil in accounting. Now that I think about it, he might be dead. We haven't seen him move since 2009.
Of course, some of those in my office who may read this would tell me I could lengthen their lives by paying more to lift them out of abject poverty. That's just crazy talk. Apparently Sitting Disease also affects the cognitive process. Clearly they need to stand up and move around, clearing the cobwebs out of their stationarily addled heads.
Regardless, we should heed the information we learned from these studies. Active employees will be healthier employees. Active injured workers will spend less time as injured workers. Everyone wins when we keep people active, and their social network is intact. If we do this right, we could all end up living forever.
And that is a good thing, because it will take us that long to get everything off our cluttered desks.