Hate Being Chained To Your Desk All Day? 20 Jobs That Keep You Moving
Most of us no longer earn our salaries by the sweat of our brows. Instead, we work at sedentary jobs, don't work up a sweat on the job (except from stressful situations), and put on the pounds. Fortunately, not all high-paying jobs are sedentary, especially those in health care and education.
A study at Louisiana State University's Pennington Biomedical Research Center found that the number of jobs in private industry requiring at least moderate physical activity has sunk from nearly half in the early 1960s to less than 20% today. Specifically, men burn an average of 142 less calories in a workday, women 124 less.
Researchers have linked desk jobs to increased incidence of back pain, eyestrain, obesity, and even colon cancer. The LSU study concluded that the decline in caloric expenditure at work closely matches the national increase in average weight. One Australian study found that men who sit at their desks for more than six hours per day were almost twice as likely to be obese as men who sit for less than 45 minutes. An American study found that women who worked at a sedentary job for 14 years gained 20 pounds over the women who worked in the least sedentary jobs.
Some of the decline in workplace activity is caused by shifts in the economy -- away from manufacturing, mining, and logging and toward service, especially information services. Even in offices, people are probably doing less physical work than they used to do in the days when desk workers cranked mimeograph machines, hand-collated documents, whacked staplers, carried memos from one room to another, and typed (and re-typed) on manual typewriters.
Nevertheless, two fast-growing segments of our economy offer jobs that combine moderate physical activity and good income: health care and classroom teaching.
Health-care workers such as registered nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and their assistants and aides usually need to move around among examination rooms, rooms where paper work gets done, and rooms where specialized equipment is used. Those who work with bed-ridden patients often need to lift or turn patients; other health-care workers set up and take down diagnostic and therapeutic devices.
Some education has shifted to webinars, but most instruction is still done by a teacher standing in front of a blackboard. Instructors who move around among teams of students working on projects, for example in a laboratory or studio setting, get additional exercise.
Those who want a higher level of physical activity on the job might consider the construction industry. Although currently construction work is scarce because of the glutted real estate market and the shortage of funding for infrastructure projects, the industry's long-term prospects are considered good by the U.S. Department of Labor. Workers in skilled trades, such as electricians, plumbers, heating and refrigeration mechanics, and carpenters are physically active and earn good wages. Their supervisors are a little less active but are even better paid.
Following is a list of some of the best non-sedentary jobs, ranked by their combined scores for income, job growth, and job openings. The information is derived from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Median Annual Earnings
5. Teachers, Post-Secondary
8. Construction/Extraction Supervisors
9. Teachers, Elementary
13. Teachers, Middle School (except Special/Career/Technical Education)
20. Special Education Teachers, Middle School
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