By CPA Meshack Mutinda Mulei
The accounting, audit or finance profession is one that is often associated with long hours of sitting and
staring at a computer screen. This sedentary lifestyle can have a significant impact on the personal health of accountants and finance officers. A sedentary lifestyle is one in which an individual engages in little or no physical activity, and instead spends most of their time sitting or lying down.
In Kenya, where the majority of the population is engaged in manual labor, the sedentary nature of the
accounting and finance profession is even more pronounced. One of the main health concerns associated with a sedentary lifestyle is obesity. According to the World Health Organization, the prevalence of obesity in Kenya is on the rise, with an estimated 7.5% of the population being obese.
This is a significant concern for accountants and finance officers who spend most of their working hours sitting. According to a study conducted by the Kenya Institute of Management, over 70% of accountants and finance officers in Kenya suffer from various health problems such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and back pain. The study also revealed that the majority of these professionals do not engage in any form of physical activity, with only 15% reporting to engage in regular exercise.
Research has shown that sitting for prolonged periods of time can lead to weight gain, and increase the risk of obesity and associated health conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Another concern is the lack of physical activity. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to a lack of exercise, which can have
a negative impact on overall health.
Exercise is important for maintaining a healthy weight, as well as for improving cardiovascular health and reducing the risk of chronic diseases. In Kenya, where the majority of the population is engaged in manual labor, accountants and finance officers are even more likely to be physically inactive. The long working hours of accountants and finance officers can also lead to stressand burnout.
In Kenya, the long hours and high workloads are common in the accounting and finance profession,
which can lead to high levels of stress and burnout. This is due to understaffing in most organizations due to limited Human Resource budgets. This leads to overworking and stress to the staff doing the shift. Stress can have a negative impact on physical and mental health, and can lead to a range of health problems such as cardiovascular disease, depression, and anxiety.
This can have an impact on the productivity of the officer at the organizational level and also at the
personal and social circles. However, there are simple ways to beat the sedentary lifestyle and health risks
involved in this profession from your workstation/office/desk:
- Desk Yoga: Incorporating simple yoga stretches into the workday can help to improve posture, reduce muscle strain, and increase flexibility. This can be done by taking a few minutes to stretch and breathe while sitting at the desk.
- Standing Meetings: Instead of sitting in meetings, consider standing up or even walking
around while discussing. This can help to break up the monotony of sitting and improve circulation.
- Pedometer Challenge: Setting a goal to walk a certain number of steps each day can be a fun way to incorporate more physical activity into the workday. Pedometers or
fitness trackers can be used to track progress and compete with coworkers.
- Desk Exercises: Simple exercises such as leg raises, calf raises, and arm stretches can be done while sitting at the desk. This can help to keep the body active and prevent
- Take the Stairs: Instead of using the elevator, take the stairs whenever possible. This can be a great way to get in some extra exercise and increase heart rate.
6. Workstation Ergonomics: Adjusting the workstation to fit the individual’s needs can help to reduce strain on the body and improve posture.
- Active Breaks: Set reminders to take short active breaks every hour or so, whether it’s stretching, taking a walk around the office, or doing a quick set of squats or jumping
- Ball Chair: Using an exercise ball as a chair can help to engage the core and improve balance, while also providing a change of pace from sitting in a traditional chair.
- Desk Cycling: Using a small exercise bike that can be placed under the desk can provide a way to exercise while working
- Screensaver Reminder: Setting screensaver reminder to remind to take a break and stretch, this will help to remind the accountant to stand up and move around.
Outside the workstation one can mitigate the sedentary lifestyle risk by doing some of the following:
• Incorporating regular physical activity into one’s daily routine: this can include taking a walk during
lunch breaks, going for a run or cycling after work, using a standing or treadmill desk or even taking
the stairs instead of the elevator.Joining a gym or sports club can also be a great way to stay active and meet like-minded individuals.
• Managing stress through relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, and deep breathing is also key in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This will help in keeping mental health at bay and reduces the risk of burnout.
• Maintaining a healthy diet is crucial to improve personal health. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables,
and whole grains, while avoiding processed foods and high-calorie snacks, can help to maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
• Adequate sleep and hydration can help to improve focus, concentration, and productivity, as well as to boost overall energy levels. Sleep is essential for the body to repair and rejuvenate itself, and lack of sleep can lead to a number of health problems, including obesity, depression, and heart disease.
By following the above tips, individuals in the accounting and finance profession in Kenya can beat the sedentary lifestyle and health risks involved and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
The writer is a member of ICPAK