Sitting at work contributing to chronic health problems, researchers report

Jack Woodfield
Thu, 27 Jul 2017
Sitting at work contributing to chronic health problems, researchers report
Commuting and sitting for long periods of time at work could be as dangerous as smoking, according to a new survey.

The AXA Healthcare survey asked 2,000 people about their daily schedule, with those who sit at work said to sit for up to nine hours a day, including time spent travelling to their office.

Nearly half said they spend up to six hours of the working day sitting, which is limiting the amount of exercise and movement they could be carrying out. The poll also found one in four people notch up between seven to eight hours being sedentary.

AXA reports that this level of inactivity could contribute to chronic health conditions as much as smoking, and help explain why rates of conditions such as type 2 diabetes are increasing.

Jan Vickery of AXA PPP healthcare, said: "We cannot escape from the fact that many of us do much of our day-to-day business on our bottoms. To help bring this home, this nine-hour sit-time is tantamount to a UK flight to the Caribbean and, while it’s encouraging that some are taking steps to lower the risks associated with prolonged sitting, it's a concern that, for others, this seems to be a low priority."

Excessive sitting, which is associated with obesity, can also lead to heart disease and some types of cancer and even death. It is because of this the NHS recommends people participate in at least 150 minutes of exercise on a weekly basis.

Avoiding exercise can also slow the metabolism, which affects the body's ability to regulate blood sugar levels, blood pressure and break down body fat.

Nearly 50 per cent of those surveyed said they did not mind being sedentary for such long periods of time in the day, and a third said they were 'happy' with their time frames.

However, the findings also showed that nearly three quarters of those who responded to the survey admitted to having problems with their back, neck and shoulder. Only 36 per cent of people said they tried to be more active throughout the day.

"To make matters worse, sedentary home and leisure patterns may further increase our susceptibility to chronic health problems," added Vickery.

"For the sake of our health we need to break the sedentary cycle. Employees - and their employers - should be aware that adopting and developing better habits can make a big difference. Making a point of getting up and about every half hour - whether to speak with a colleague or just to stretch your legs - should help you to feel more energised and productive.

"Perhaps it's time to give that old exhortation 'bottoms up' a new lease of life to remind ourselves to get up and off our chairs more often."
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