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How to: Sit less at work

Posted by Bek: July 2012 

If you work in an office, as around 12 percent of the Australian workforce do, then chances are you spend a fair amount of your day planted on a chair. Research has shown that on average office workers spend 75 percent of their day and 80,000 hours over their working life in a sedentary position.

We didn't used to sit as much, but technology has made it easier than ever before to not leave our desks and, because of this, prolonged workplace sitting is emerging as a serious public health and occupational health issue.

Prolonged sitting has been linked to:

  • premature death
  • diabetes
  • musculoskeletal disorders
  • risk factors for cardiovascular disease and cancer.

More importantly, this is irrespective of how much exercise you do outside of work.

Several organisations (including Cancer Council Victoria) are currently trialling various interventions, such as sit-to-stand desks and standing meeting rooms, to see if these can make an impact on reducing sitting times. Results of previous trials have reported less health issues and no drop in productivity as a result of the interventions. In fact, workers reported feeling more alert and less sluggish as a result of many of these initiatives.

So how can you cut the amount of time you spend in your chair?

1. If you attend a lot of meetings, break them up by suggesting a walking meeting. These work better with a small group as in larger groups it's difficult to hear everyone.
2. If you have no joy with the walking meeting, suggest a standing meeting – you will find there's an additional benefit to these – they don't tend to drag on like some traditional meetings.
3. Schedule in regular breaks. You could even set an alarm on your computer or phone to remind you to get up and move about. Aim to get away from your desk even if it's for a minute or two once every hour.
4. Cut back on the email by walking over to chat to colleagues or physically take documents to them.

Now if you're sitting reading this, stand up and take a stand for your health. 

If you've tried something to reduce your sitting time and it's working, drop us a line and let us know.

Read Bek's blog: From Elton John to the brain-bottom connection – unexpected side effects of a standing desk

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