How much sitting at work is ‘too much’?

Recent evidence suggests that spending prolonged periods of the day sitting may have some health risks, including increased risk of cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, obesity and poor musculoskeletal health. Importantly, some studies have shown that the risks of prolonged sitting at work occur even when a person engages in regular moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA). This suggests that for optimal health, adults should reduce sitting as well as doing regular MVPA. The workplace is one setting in which an adult may accumulate high volumes of sitting. On average, Australian adults sit for nearly 9 hours per day, and over half of this sitting occurs at the workplace

Longitudinal studies showed that beneficial health outcomes occurred among employees who replaced workplace sitting by two hours a day with standing and/or light-intensity activity. However, reducing sitting by 4 or more hours a day was shown to have further health benefits. Furthermore, reducing sitting has favourable effects on cardiometabolic biomarkers associated with diabetes (e.g. glucose and insulin).

This is the first set of recommendations to specifically quantify that reducing sitting by 2-4 hours/day may reduce the negative health risks associated with prolonged sitting at work.

As trainers we can’t stress enough the importance of regular movement while at work especially if you are desk bound in your daily duties. This research proves the benefits of breaking up long bouts of sitting time. Some strategies you could use to reduce total daily sitting time are: standing up during meetings or using a sit-to-stand desk while using a computer and walk to the copier.
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