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The term “Sitting Disease” is not a medical term, rather a scientific one, and is usually used when talking about metabolic syndrome and the adverse effects of an overly inactive lifestyle. Yes, one can be overly inactive!
At this time the medical community does not recognise Sitting Disease as a diagnosable disease. However one feels it’s only a matter of time.
We Are Sitting Too Much
According to SafeWork Australia, half of us have a job that involves sitting for some or most of the day. 55% spend the day sedentary (Get Australia Standing), and 75% of work hours for office-based Aussies involve inactive behaviour (this is according to VicHealth). Between eight and ten hours is the average sedentary time of an adult (again, according to Safe Works Australia).
What is classified as sedentary behaviour? Think of it as an activity conducted while sitting or reclined, with little to no energy expenditure. With the most common settings for sedentary behaviour occurring while driving, at school, in the office or in the living room.
Evidently, the working populace most at risk of sitting disease is office workers (given the nature of office work). Next up is transportation, and the next at risk are those operating specialised and highly mechanised machinery (forklift drivers, crane operators, factory machine operators and those who work with sewing machines).
It’s Killing Us
A telling study to look at is one carried out by The American Cancer Society, published in the Journal of Epidemiology in 2010. It makes for grim reading…
Men who sat for more than 6 hours a day inactively were 94 % more likely to die prematurely than woman who sat less than three hours a day and kept physically active.
When comparing men to other men, those who sat for 6 or more hours and didn’t keep active were almost half as likely to die sooner than their counterparts who were physically active and sat less than three hours a day.
It’s worth noting that these results were independent of physical activity levels, meaning that the negative impacts of sitting affected those who regularly exercised the same as those who did not. Australia’s own National Health Survey calculated that 70% of Aussie adults are sedentary, or have low levels of physical activity. When you break it down, prolonged sitting can lead to health issues such as cardiovascular activity, diabetes, obesity and musculoskeletal disorders.
It’s Time For A Change
An ISPOS study concluded that 60% of employees believed that they’d be more productive at work if given the opportunity to conduct their tasks while on their feet. In addition, 67% of office workers across the US wished their employer would provide the choice of a desk that can be height adjusted.
It’s The Small Things That Make A Big Difference
To combat sedentary behaviour in the office, Safe Work Australia recommends using the “reduce and interrupt” method, which reduces long periods of sitting by interrupting it with standing and/or walking. There are a few ways to do this:
Walking To Work
– Ditch the bus or the traffic, lace up your sneakers and take a walk to work! Ensure you’ve got water and a bag where you keep your office clothes. As well as a sweat towel and some deodorant!
Take The Stairs
– Elevators are the enemy. Taking the stairs both up and down on your way to the office is a great way to burn extra kilojoules without going to the gym. Keep a pair of sneakers under your desk!
Stand While Using The Phone
– Got some calls to make? Go wireless and use the time to stroll around the office. Walking helps blood flow faster to your brain. Maybe that’s why Steve Jobs took so many meetings while on a stroll.
Stand Up Desks
– Variable height desks are seen in most office spaces these days, and if your office doesn’t have them yet then it’s worth asking your boss why not. Stand up desks are an easy and convenient way to stay healthy and avoid sedentary behaviour. (We should know, we’ve got them everywhere in our office! Don’t forget to explore our site and find yourself one!)
Stand Up Meetings
– Escape the boardroom and take more meetings outside. The fresh air is good for creativity, and it’s a lot harder to lose focus while on your feet! Have a read through our other ideas to help create an active office for your team!