How long do you sit? Carnegie University researchers Dr Michelle Mellis and Dr Zoe Rutherford, look ahead to the forthcoming ‘On your Feet Britain’ campaign and offer their expert advice on how to become more active in the workplace.
Have you ever calculated how many hours you spend sitting, both at work and at home? The outcome can be somewhat shocking, with the average desk-based worker now accumulating an average of 9 hours of sitting per day. The workplace has evolved to be so technologically efficient, which ultimately means as employees we are adopting sedentary behaviours. We just don’t need to get up and move around like we did before the digital era, plus we can almost convince ourselves that spending more time in front of our computers makes us more productive. The reality however is the opposite, and excessive sitting at work could have a negative impact on our job and our health.
Our own sitting time calculations have revealed some worrying information, ranging up to 14 hours sitting on a bad day for Michelle. This is despite achieving the recommended daily physical activity of 30 minutes which is really only scratching the surface. Our focus therefore needs to be on the other waking hours and seeing how can we sit for less? If you are interested, you can calculate your own sitting hours and the associated risk at www.getbritainstanding.org/
At a recent conference – the inaugural Active Working Summit – we were busy networking with fellow academics, researchers and industrial partners in an effort to promote the importance of “active working”. We were lucky enough to be given a height-adjustable desk each and it has provided us with a first-hand opportunity to support our vision to #SitLessStandMore.
In January 2015, the public health guidelines were updated and for the first time they now include a recommendation to reduce prolonged sitting. The guidance is to build up to two hours of standing per day, and then progress this to four hours per day. We can’t underestimate the power that light physical activity (standing and general movement around the office) could have on breaking up our sedentary lifestyles. It is important even for those that are achieving the physical activity recommendations of 150 minutes moderate intensity exercise per week as it does not appear to offset the risks associated with prolonged sitting. We will be covering more about this in a future blog post so watch this space.
On Wednesday 24 April 2015, a national campaign is hosting “On Your Feet Britain”, a day dedicated to getting people out of their chairs and becoming more active in the workplace. This campaign is led by the British Heart Foundation and Get GB Standing and will hopefully become an annual event. General activity suggestions many of you will be familiar with include:
- taking the stairs as often as possible and avoiding the lift
- getting off the bus one stop early or parking the car further away from the office to increase walking time are all excellent ways to move more.
- Take small-group walking meetings – this is a pleasant way to have discussions with your colleagues and get some activity such as a few laps of the Acre.
- Do a standing meeting – these have been reported to be more productive so they will be over quicker! Remember our time is precious.
- Walk to a photocopier/printer at the opposite end of the corridor or on the next floor.
- Remove the kettle from your office and walk to the staff room instead.
- Do stretching exercises at your desk to mobilise – these small movements count as light physical activity.
- Drink water so you get up to get refills or to go to the loo!
- Move the rubbish bin to the opposite side of the office so you have to get up
- Walk over to colleagues rather than sending an email or phoning them.
- Stand up and pace when on the phone.
- Set a reminder on your computer or phone to stand and move around every 30 minutes – alternate between sitting and standing
- Take active breaks – walk around the office or go outside for 5 minutes.
- Leave your desk for lunch – many of us are culprits of working over lunch but it’s important to take a break to boost productivity in the afternoon.
- Going out to get lunch or drinks for the team – this will always go down well!