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Home >> Health Risks >> The Sitting Problem

The Sitting Problem

Introduction
The World Health Organization now ranks physical inactivity as 4th largest killer globally.

Throughout Australia we have lost more than half of the physical activity in the workplace.

Furthermore it turns out that even if you achieve all your physical activity goals but remain seated 8 or more hours a day, you can’t undo the negative effects of excessive sitting.

Our bodies are designed to stand and move for long periods of time and we automatically shift our weight and move around while standing. Standing initiates key physiological processes and prevents both the repetitive stress and muscle degeneration that is caused by sitting. But the simple fact is that there is NO correct prolonged sitting position.

In recent years a new kid has emerged on the science block. That kid is called "Sedentary Behaviour", and it’s beginning to get noticed for all the right reasons.
Australian Workplace and Sitting
The average Australian worker spends almost 33 1 hours per week at the workplace. Those working full time in jobs that involve ‘mostly sitting’ spend on average 6.3 hours per day sitting at work 2.

There are currently no Australian Government’s Department of Health guidelines on how long adults should sit. In 2015 the British Journal for Sports Medicine published the first expert statement recommending accumulation of two hours a day of standing and light activity during working hours, eventually progressing to four. The recommendations come from an international group of experts, including the Head of Physical Activity Research at Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, Professor David Dunstan, who say there is a growing case for change towards better health and productivity based on the current body of scientific evidence.

Key studies 3, 4 from Australia have demonstrated a potential ameliorating influence of workplace interventions, which promote standing breaks and/or the on-going use of sit–stand adjustable workstations. The “Stand @ Work study” conducted in Sydney investigated the feasibility of such standing desks. The intervention was successful at reducing sitting time via use of sit-stand work stations by almost 20% 5.

Professor David Dunstan, Head, Physical Activity Laboratory Baker IDI

"Many Australians are sitting longer than they are sleeping – sitting longer than 8hrs a day can increase risk of early death by 15%- focus on breaking up long periods into shorter periods by getting up and moving"

In January 2015 Public Health England and Active Working C.I.C (owners of the Get Australia Standing campaign) jointly commissioned an Expert Statement on the status and impact of prolonged sitting in the office (Download).