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Seated For Death

So you sat to eat breakfast this morning, then you sat in the car to work, then at work or in the classroom for another 8 hours, then in the car on the way home and finally in front of the television while you had dinner because you were so exhausted from the whole day of sitting! So how much sitting is good for you if this all adds up?

Research has linked sitting for prolonged periods to a number of health concerns such as increased blood pressure, diabetes, being overweight and a direct correlation with early death. Too much sitting can also be bad for your mental health, leading to anxiety and depression. As a physiotherapist, a big cause of lower back pain in my clients is due to prolonged periods of being sedentary.

Safe Work Australia recently revealed statistics that 50% of the Australian workforce sit for at least some period of time, with 8-10 hours being the average time in a seated position.

As human beings, our bodies are designed for regular movement and to stand on two feet.

The American Heart Association encourages us all to “Sit less, move more,” which echoes the fact that those people that sat for less than 30 minutes had the lowest risk of mortality.

However, office workers are the not the only occupations requiring prolonged periods in that deathly computer chair, many of our tradesman and truck drivers are also subject to such risks. Another common population that flies under the radar are our adolescents and students, who spend much of their time studying.

Student studying

So although the risks seem dire, there are some things you can do to move it or lose it! Here are some quick tips to reduce the amount of time you sit for:

  • Put an alarm on your phone every 30 minutes to remind you to get out of sitting
  • Use rest breaks as a chance to stand up, stretch, go for a walk, to the toilet, get some water and then come back to the task rejuvenated and refocussed
  • Use a standing desk to alternate between sitting and standing postures
  • Walk over to a work colleague instead of emailing them
  • Organize a walking meeting
  • Take your lunch break away from your desk and go outside to get some sunshine and fresh air
  • Move your rubbish bin away from your desk so you have to get up
  • Plan regular breaks if you have long car trips as part of your work so you can get out and stretch
  • Park your car further from the entrance to work to you have to walk there
Standing meeting

Invariably we cannot always change the type of work we do whether it be sedentary or not. However, by working smarter and even just implementing a couple of strategies we can be healthier and reduce our risk of certain diseases. If all else fails, ask your workplace manager to get a resident dog that needs to be walked every 30 minutes!

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