WORKPLACE / APR. 07, 2015
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UK Campaign Launched to Encourage 'Active Working'

Workers in the UK sit for an average of 8.9 hours a day - way more than the recommended upper limit of four hours every day. A new campaign, named ’Get Britain Standing’, is encouraging those of us with sedentary jobs and lifestyles to examine our working pattern and find ways of adding periods of standing and moving, to improve our everyday health and fitness.

See also: How to be More Active When You Work at a Desk

How long do you spend sitting?

The campaign webpage includes a calculator listing out the times people commonly sit, both at work and at home. Use it to add up the average amounts of time you spend sitting, and be reminded of necessities like commuting which often also lead to large chunks of time sat still. With expert advice and opinion that’s easy to find from the site, it’s a great way to learn more and gather ideas about easily incorporating more standing and movement into daily life.

Why does it matter?

Alarmingly, the campaign highlights research which shows clear links between excessive periods of inactivity and serious and preventable diseases. Research has revealed the internal effects of sitting for long periods, including disruption to the metabolic rate, and increasing blood sugar and blood pressure levels. And in the long term, there can be serious impacts - take these problems which are more prevalent in people who sit for more than four hours a day, for an example:

  • 1. Heart disease
  • 2. Diabetes
  • 3. Obesity
  • 4. Cancer
  • 5. Back ache 
  • 6. Dementia
  • 7. Depression
  • 8. Muscle degeneration

The range of issues that can be caused by excessive sitting is pretty scary - and they’re frequently life altering illnesses, not mere niggles. What is perhaps most revealing is that the list of issues above can be exacerbated by excessive periods of sitting, regardless of physical condition overall. In other words, adding in an extra gym session a week but still sitting at your desk day in day out, will not remove the risks. If this doesn’t convince you to take action then nothing will.

What the experts advise

The ’Get Britain Standing’ campaign site has a whole range of advice and ideas. With a starting point of making small changes which can be easily incorporated into daily life, you can easily get started.

And the ideas are practical, too. You may have seen professional ’standing desks’ for example, but been deterred by the price, particularly if you work from home. If so, check out the site for links to inspired DIY options like using a floating shelf as a raised desk, or a saw horse as a naturally higher work surface.

And if you can’t change your desk, then take some ideas from the site to allow you to change your behaviour. Stop using the phone to talk with colleagues in your building, get up and walk to them instead. Take the stairs and quit your lunch-at-the-desk habit. Your overall health, and your productivity, will benefit.

If you are one of the many millions of us who spend most of the day sitting at a desk, visit the campaign home page to start gathering ideas on simple and practical changes you can make to avoid excessive periods of inactivity, and improve your overall health and wellbeing.

Do you know of any other health problems we can suffer from by being desk-bound all day? Let us know in the comments box below.

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