In the face of increasing evidence that sitting too much is leading to serious illness and obesity, the NHS website has published a set of guidelines on how (and why we should) sit down less.
The piece explains how some people are sitting for over 7 hours a day and 10 hours for the older generation. This in turn slows down the metabolism, reduces our body’s natural ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down fat. In short, sitting is making us overweight and ill.
I Want A Standing Desk UK Blog recently reported on Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock’s vision for the future of the NHS being preventative so it comes as no surprise that the new guidelines include the recommendation that people integrate standing desks into their own working days. Mr Hancock is a standing desk user himself and recommends that teams undertake their meetings at standing desks. The health secretary explained that standing meetings tend to be shorter and more efficient.
The NHS have published the Start Active, Stay Active Report which recommends breaking up sitting with short two minutes bouts of activity. A Panel of experts have suggested taking "an active break from sitting every 30 minutes." This can be accomplished with a variable height standing desk whilst allowing you to work through the sitting break.
"Breaking up sitting time engages your muscles and bones, and gives all our bodily functions a boost – a bit like revving a car's engine," says Professor Dunstan.
The NHS has included the following tips to reduce sitting time:
- work standing
- stand on the train or bus
- take the stairs and walk up escalators
- set a reminder to get up every 30 minutes
- stand or walk around while on the phone
- take a walk break every time you take a coffee or tea break
- walk to a co-worker's desk instead of emailing or calling
- swap some TV time for more active tasks or hobbies
I Want A Standing Desk UK Blog has written about UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock's belief that physical activity is "miracle cure" here.
In light of the shocking revelation that for the first time in history children’s life expectancy is 5 years shorter than their parents designedtomove.org has published a powerful video showing us what children would choose to do with 5 years extra to live.
In 2010 Nike formed a group of 70+ organisations whose mission it was to provide a framework to combat inactivity and understand a path to solving growing sedentary behaviour in children.
After initial launch the Designed To Move report has been refined, validated and published by The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education (ICSSPE). The group refers to inactivity as an epidemic that threatens our health, happiness and prosperity.
iwantastandingdesk.com and our twitter Standing Desk UK champions activity in schools and workplaces. We are here to help you be ambassadors for the change needed to fix the increase of sedentary behaviour which affects mental and physical health for everyone in your organisation.
We offer standing desk trials for schools and offer free advice to companies on how to successfully integrate standing desks into their workplaces. We proudly stand up and shout about the designedtomove campaign, offering you solutions to help give the children their 5 years back.
Brits work some of the longest work weeks in Europe and UK firms are beginning to buck that trend by offering their staff 4 day working weeks.
By reducing lunch hours and annual leave to 45 mins and by 20% respectively Gloucester based outfit Radioactive PR have been able to adopt a 4 day working week and MD Rich Leigh says of his newly reinvigorated staff base “There are two ways to make money in my line of work,” he says, “retain clients and get new ones. Miserable, tired staff can’t do either.”
Last year, more than half a million UK workers were signed off with work related stress or anxiety. Nick White, MD of Iwantastandingdesk.com said “encouraging good mental health in the workplace is absolutely imperative. Britain are notoriously behind trend internationally when it comes to integrating good work/life balance and positive healthy culture into their workplaces.”
“We work with a large number of companies who are invested in their employee’s well-being and frequently report to us that integrating standing desks, reduced work hours and other healthy work space initiatives result in their teams outputting higher quality work and demonstrating incredible loyalty. Not to mention all these measures increase recruitment quality as companies are striving more and more to improve their in-house offering to attract the best talent.”
France recently made it illegal for companies to expect their workers to answer emails out of hours but Britain just hasn’t kept up with our European neighbours and often work long hours often unpaid averaging 10 hours overtime a week and only 34 minute lunch hours.
The EU working time directive sets a limit of 48 working hours a week. Britain is the only EU member that allows workers to opt out of this and work longer hours. Trade unions however believe this is subject to “widespread abuse.”
Videogame companies are one of the worst culprits for insisting on crunch development cycles where staff often report on spending weeks to months not seeing their family’s due to the incredible pressure to meet deadlines. This is frequently regarded as “normal part of the job” but is affecting 76% of the industry despite being clearly unsustainable and damaging to long term productivity. According to research some workers report bouts of depression and low morale following the tech industries notorious crunch periods.
Standing meetings are often shorter, allowing firms to reduce wasted workplace time which research has shown is as damaging to productivity as cannabis smoking.
The Green party and Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress have both campaigned for the implementation of a 4 day working week citing increased automation as an opportunity for companies to spread the benefits of increased profits to its staff base. Should this begin to occur critics might argue that 4 day work weeks as a result of automation might inflate into the development of worklessness as companies begin to realise they need their staff base less and less.
Mark Price former MD of Waitrose believes the increase of the 4 day working week sends the wrong message and suggests that “work is bad and should be done less” he also believes that the public sector can ill afford to reduce working weeks in line with the private sector without increasing taxes to cover this. “I can’t imagine there is much of an appetite for that.”
Should 4 day work weeks be adopted in private sector could that make working for vital public services less appealing and have a negative impact to recruitment in services such as councils and NHS?
Wherever you land on the subject, there appears to be a need to improve our approach to work place health.
Crunch is bad for mental health but can we be more productive by working less? Latest research from Perpetual Guardian, a wealth management firm seems to suggest so as they report an increase in productivity by 24% in firms that take up the 4 days weeks. Following in his firm’s footsteps, Gloucester Managing Director Leigh asks the question “why not give it a try?”.
The APPG on a Fit and Healthy Childhood has released a report on the 7th November which insists the government regulate the marketing of junk food to kids. Right now companies only have an opt-in system where they can volunteer to regulate their own marketing to children however only a few particularly virtuous companies have subscribed to the regime and the APPG on a Fit and Healthy Childhoods new report urges the government to implement a series of mandatory regulations to ensure that companies adopt less aggressive measures marketing their products to vulnerable young people.
Child obesity rates are soaring and the World Health Organisation has highlighted the adverse effect that cynical youth-focused marketing is having on the eating and drinking habits of our children. Whilst Public Health England prefers to take a suggestive approach such as making the Change4Life free Sugar Smart and Be Food Smart apps available these measures are criticised as being underwhelming in the battle against childhood obesity in the face of companies ruthless advertising of unhealthy choices.
Lead Author of the report, and chair of the working group Helen Clark said
‘If the Government really cares about the health and fitness of our children, this report should be welcomed. It’s time now to be proactive - simply ‘working with industry’ on marketing doesn’t work!"
Some of the proposed measures in the report include restoring the £600 Million funding cuts back to local councils public health funding and;
- The banning of friendly characters to advertise junk food.
- Pushing back junk food advertising after a 9pm watershed.
- Fully adopt the UNICEF-advocated ‘child rights’ approach.
Helen Clark went on to explain “Actions must be mandatory to benefit all the UK’s children and industry should be given no room to evade beneficial action, ‘get around it’ or, as too many companies are doing today, simply ignore it. It’s time for those who make policy to stand up and be counted in the children’s corner!’
Understanding our Language: The APPG is an acronym for All-Party Parliamentary Group.
Last week we reported that childhood obesity has been linked to 12 major cancers.
Professor Stuart Biddle of Loughborough University has undertaken a research study which followed six people over a year as they tried to keep up with regular exercise by attending a gym. His results determined that we would all benefit from building regular exercise into our daily routines instead of attempting to maintain a gruelling gym routine as 9 out of 10 people quit the gym only 6 weeks after joining even when subscribing for a whole year.
Professor Biddle speaking at the British Psychological Society's annual conference at Imperial College, London said "We have got an obesity problem because we have lost those little bits of everyday activity that we used to have, like walking to the shops or to work.”
"People's' engagement with exercise will fluctuate as a result of other events in their lives. Structured exercise at a gym can be too disruptive to everyday life.
"It's important to build exercise into your daily routine - there are many other alternatives to gym membership.”
“Research has shown that standing 3 or 4 hours a day would be activity equivalent of running 10 marathons a year.” Nick White, MD of iwantastandingdesk.com said “This only further cements our opinion that its time people consider spending some of that yearly gym membership money on a quality standing desk that they won’t want to walk away from in 6 weeks’ time.”
Two major health research reports have been released detailing the links between children’s screen time and the growing rate of short sightedness and long term obesity – identified as one of the key causes of cancer.
The World Cancer Research Fund undertook a global review, considering 80 studies involving more than 200,000 people and identified childhood screen time as a major contributing factor in the development of cancer causing obesity.
“Multiple health issues are reportedly tied to increased screen time however this is a by-product of our time. Children are raised on eBooks in schools now. When using devices at a standing desk at in monitored time frames, children sit less and remain active counteracting many of the negative impacts to their health.” Said Nick White, MD of iwantastandingdesk.com
The WCRF has found links between obesity and 12 major cancer types including breast, prostate, and colon, liver, ovarian, kidney and pancreatic disease.
Short-sightedness has more than doubled in the last 50 years, scientists conclude this is a direct response to increased screen time and King College London have dubbed the issue “digital myopia” as they say every hour spent in front of a computer in childhood increases the risk of short-sightedness in children by a staggering 3%.
Sugary drinks and in- game advertising have both been identified within the report as having some of the strongest contributing factors to childhood obesity and rising health problems.
A paper launched by researchers from the University of Salford in January details suggestions and methods for adults to combat the rise of screen time. Dr Adam Galpin said "Families would benefit from balanced and sensible guidance on how to minimise risk and harmful behaviour whilst encouraging positive uses of digital media.”
Great minds such as Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein all bestowed the virtues of prevention being better than cure in healthcare. Edison predicted the Doctor of the future would spend his time preventing issues rather than solving them.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock, yesterday brought to light a 41 page document detailing the governments’ vision for the future of healthcare in the UK citing prevention as their top priority.
Mr Hancock reflected on prevention being more than simply the responsibility of the medical and social care system but that it should be actively promoted and delivered by all members of the community.
“I want us to be working with all those who have a role in influencing health: communities, employers, industry, local government, housing, schools and charities.”
Matt Hancock has recently encouraged companies to adopt standing desks and undertake standing meetings as a means to integrate healthy culture at a ground roots level.
The Health secretary’s report further encourages embedding a culture of good health and positive working / learning environments within our communities to realise his target to increase life expectancy by at least 5 years by 2035.
The document reads “Prevention is as important at seventy years old as it is at age seven.”
The report discusses the need for preventative technology, mobile apps for remote workers and the need for online communities to help patients provide advice and support to one another. Alongside this the NHS may begin to implement “lifestyle questionnaires” on admission to tackle preventable illness.
The questionnaires and notions of individual responsibility have been criticised by some as encouraging a “nanny state.”
Nick Hancock, UK Health Secretary Will today speak at the Annual Meeting of the International Association of National Public Health Institutes to outline his strategy to include prevention as a priority in future NHS budgets and methods.
Integrating technology such as apps that consider lifestyle and location and other prevention methods such as standing desks, free fruit and lend a bike schemes in the workplace are all part of Mr Hancock’s new plan to reduce the burden on the NHS by investing in prevention rather than cure.
Ministers currently spend £97 billion on treating disease and only £8bn on preventing it.
The Sun reports that in his statement Nick Hancock will say “It can’t be right that today, in England, a boy born in the poorest parts of our country will die nine years earlier, and live 19 more years in poor health, than a boy born in the richest areas.
“That’s why prevention matters. That’s why we need a new 21st century focus on prevention.”
The Sun goes on to report that a green paper, titled “Prevention is better than cure”, will outline the vision for a “new 21st century focus on prevention”.
Standing Desks are an excellent measure for maintaining good health and amongst other preventative innovations are encouraged under the governments new plans to improve general health in the workplace.
More than one in five children are considered obese by the time the leave primary school according to new official NHS data.
In just over a decade child obesity rates have risen more than a third and are now at a record high. More than 24,000 children in England are now considered severely obese whilst a staggering 116,000 children are deemed obese.
Statistics captured are from the national childhood measurement programme.
"Obesity is a problem that has been decades in the making - one that will take significant effort across government, schools, families and wider society to address.” - Public Health Minister Steve Brine explained how the government has already removed a high level of sugar from children’s diets by enacting the sugar tax which has funded vital school sports and breakfast programmes and they have bold plans to half the amount of childhood obesity by 2030 by implementing Chapter Two of the Childhood Obesity Strategy such as preventing junk food advertising on television before 9pm.
Children with obesity face four times the risk of developing type 2 diabetes according to a study published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society. Whilst 41 Million children worldwide are regarded as obese according to research. Nick White Managing Director of iwantastandingdesk.com reflected on the growing trend “Without additional activity being including into daily learning hours, childhood obesity is going to become a problem at an educational level. Obesity becoming prevalent means lower activity levels and productivity reducing primary schools educational outcomes.”
Iwantastandingdesk.com offer standing desk schools trials here – Standing desks in schools encourage movement, improve productivity and help fidgety children engage whilst remaining active.
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock who tomorrow will announce a new health initiative urging employers to push movement in the workplace, says he believes it’s the duty of schools, GPs, teachers and employers to promote daily activity as he describes standing desks and movement as a “miracle cure” that cuts the risk of many illnesses.
“Our message should be that movement is medicine.” Health Secretary Matt Hancock said at the International Society for Physical Activity and Health Congress in London.
Employers are encouraged to build movement into their workers days by buying them standing desks and encouraging standing for meetings. The health secretary who himself uses a standing desk has made the plea in a bid to counter the ever growing issue of sedentary lifestyles lowering our productivity and importantly our lifespans.
“Research has shown that sitting for eight hours a day could increase the risk of premature death by up to 60 percent” reports Laura Donnelly, Health Editor of The Daily Telegraph
The health secretary has encouraged companies to integrate sit-stand desks such as iwantastandingdesk.com’s range of Jack Desks and to avoid seated meetings where possible.
Mr Hancock explained that not only were these measures designed to encourage benefits to health but also productivity and multiple other gains.
“Workplaces can make a difference; encouraging breaks, offering standing desks, having standing meetings…I know from personal experience that having a standing desk can help you get some exercise and improve your productivity”
Not only schools and businesses but GPs are also encouraged by Mr Hancock to push the benefits of standing and movement. “Doctors should not be afraid to tell patients that they need to be more active,” he told the London summit.
The health secretary has since urged businesses to also offer free fruit to reduce the burden on the NHS and encourage healthy living.
Sources: The Daily Telegraph , Daily Mail