Did you know 81% of office workers spend between 4 and 9 hours sitting at their desk every day. According to the NHS, adults in the UK spend more than 7 hours a day sitting and this figure increases to 10 hours or more with age (not including sleep). Research has revealed that 37% of British adults spend less than 30 minutes on their feet a day. “Sitting really is the new smoking,” said researcher Monika Safford.
If we think about an average daily routine, it may involve having breakfast sitting down at home or at work, driving or sitting on a bus/train, sitting at our desks, eating at our desks (sitting down), driving home, sitting and eating in the evening and then sitting down to watch TV or Netflix. That equates to a lot of sitting down for long periods of time with little movement.
To calculate your average sitting time click here
According to the NHS long periods of sitting can slow the body’s metabolism, reducing the ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and the break down of body fat (when sitting the enzymes that break down fat – Lipoprotein Lipase, drop by 90%).
‘Get Britain Standing‘ have listed the top 10 risks for prolonged sitting every day:
- Cardiovascular Health
- Weight gain
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Mental Health
- Back/neck pain
- Muscle Degeneration
Professor Stuart Biddle, of the Start Active, Stay Active Report, reviewed the evidence and recommended taking “an active break from sitting every 30 minutes”. A study showed that by trading two minutes of sitting for two minutes of light-intensity activity each hour lowered the risk of premature death by 33%.
How can we put this into action and keep moving every hour at work?
Take a look at our tips below and see what you and your colleagues can incorporate into your day:
- Stand up and have a quick break from your desk every 30 minutes
- Stand/walk around when taking phone calls
- Go for a walking meeting with colleagues
- Use a small glass for water, increasing the amount of times you walk to fill it up
- If you work at a desk, try a standing desk or move to a higher surface if available
- Walk to the furthest toilets or water fountain each time you get up
- Take the stairs when possible
- Stand at the back of the room for presentations
- Eat lunch away from your desk
If you can’t always get away from your desk, try these simple ways to keep some movement going every hour:
- Stretch at your desk
- Tap your feet
- Straighten your back
- Shrug your shoulders
- Circle your ankles and wrists
- Stretch your arms out
- Tap your fingers
- Tilt your pelvis backwards and forwards
These will all help to keep your circulation and muscles moving. Small changes could make all the difference! Start by simply standing when you have the option and walking that little bit further each day.
Let’s work together to keep each other motivated to move at work!!
Columbia University Medical Center (2017). Long sitting periods may be just as harmful as daily total. Available at: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170911180004.htm
Get Britain Standing (2019) Available at: http://www.getbritainstanding.org/research.php
Laskowski E R (2018) What are the risks of sitting too much? Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/sitting/faq-20058005
Public Health Watch (2015) Available at: https://publichealthwatch.wordpress.com/2015/05/06/why-you-should-commit-to-walking-for-two-minutes-every-hour/