Sitting is the new smoking, we are being told.
It’s a bold statement, but more and more evidence is suggesting that too much sitting is bad for our health.
It has even been shown that compared to more active people, the risk of early death is 15 per cent greater for people who sit more than eight hours a day.
And the risk is 40 per cent greater for people who sit for more than 11 hours per day.
We weren’t designed to spend long periods of every day hunched over our desks, gazing at computer screens – or even lounging on the sofa glued to the telly. And yet we feel we have no time to exercise to counteract all of this sitting.
How are we supposed to fit it in between work, sleep and social life?
If we can spend less of that eight hours or so a day sitting, without compromising our work, then we can get some serious activity ticked off without even noticing it.
Maybe, we could even work better too. Plenty of evidence suggests that to be the case.
Studies show that if you are working in an office, you are likely to be sitting for up to three quarters of the working day – not to mention time spent commuting or putting in a few extra hours on the laptop at home.
This poses serious dangers to your health, increasing your risk of heart and cardiovascular disease, weight gain and type 2 diabetes as well as some cancers.
You may also become prone to headaches, visual fatigue, neck and low back pain.
Don’t think that you can make up for it by being super sporty out of work.
According to major research, being inactive in the office is bad for you even if you exercise a lot outside from nine to five.
So what can you do?
Researchers say the only sure way to address the problem is to sit less and change position every 20 to 30 minutes, even for 30 seconds or so.
Short activity breaks have been shown to reduce blood sugar and insulin spikes.
Standing and walking increases blood flow in the legs, burns more calories by speeding up your metabolism, and can help get the creative juices flowing.
Changes in posture help realign the spinal curves, putting less strain on our joints, spinal discs and nerves.
To celebrate the recently launched ‘On your Feet Britain’ campaign, designed to inspire workers to get more active in the office, I have teamed up with Vavista physio, Claire Treen to give you a few top tips to maintain healthy habits during your nine to five working day.
HOW YOU CAN BOOST YOUR ACTIVITY AT WORK
• Make a few extra trips to the water fountain – good for hydration, too
• Set your alarm or use a personal fitness band to remind you to move every 30 minutes
• Get up and talk to colleagues rather than sending an email
• Stand up and wander around for that phone-call
• How about a walking or standing meeting? It is supposed to help the creative juices flow and avoids those painfully long conferences.
• Consider using a standing or treadmill desk – studies show they can help
• If you can get outside, even better… fresh air leads to fresh ideas and boosts vitamin D.
• When you are sitting, adjust chairs to keep you supported and upright
• Alter screen height and brightness to suit you. A poorly positioned keyboard and mouse can contribute to wrist, arm, shoulder and neck pain, so make sure your keyboard and mouse are not too far away from you.