The average office worker sits down more than an Old Age Pensioner. White collar workers are on their bottoms for an average of 9 hours a day healthcare studies show. That’s 540 minutes a day…a staggering 16425 minutes a month. Nearly 200,000 Minutes a year.
29% of us sit for up to half an hour daily on our way to work. Whilst a further 27% sit for up to an hour a day on their commute. We often then work sat down, take our breaks sat down, before commuting home on our bottoms. A third of us are then sitting between 4-6 hours in the evening and weekends.
After this? Well we go and have a lie down to go to sleep. Think about that for a moment. Can you section your day up from the moment you get out of bed and honestly say you’re not sitting for a massive proportion of it? Health experts vehemently agree that 9 hours a day (on average) is too much.
One study interviewed 2000 workers and found that 2/3rds of people didn’t consider themselves “happy” about the amount of time they spent sitting. 73 % of participants demonstrated musculoskeletal problems such as back, neck and shoulder pain.
Sitting is heavily associated with numerous illnesses. The NHS has written extensively about why sitting is bad for us, and they recommend at least 150 minutes a week doing exercise.
Studies have linked excessive sitting with being overweight and obese, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and early death.
Next year you have a choice to make. Are you going to be one the 2/3rds who aren’t happy with their sedentary lifestyle or are you going to join the growing number of people who are actively increasing their movement and integrating standing into their social and work lives to make their whole life longer, healthier and happier.
The beginning of a new year is great time to take stock and decide if you want to make some positive changes. Go ahead and set some goals. You could get a standing desk, or get an apple watch to remind you to stand, or just get out of your chairs and walk around. Whatever works for you, next year we urge you to simply GET UP.
The NHS has a helpful live well guide that is a road map for how you could be healthier at work. You can find it here.
Be your best version of you.
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?”.
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.”
Matt 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 Matt 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
Sitting for hours on end is linked to nine more cancers than we thought, according to the cancer expert who is helping to re-write the exercise guidelines. Charles E Matthews, an epidemiologist at the National Cancer Institute, warns we need more physical activity than we thought - but more importantly, we need to sit less.
Just one hour of TV a day puts even the most active of us at a higher risk of not just breast and colon cancer - which we already knew - but also nine other cancers including lung and head or neck.
"Watching TV is the major competitor to going out and being more active," he told the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Austin, Texas. "This is where moderate activity like a brisk walk or things around the house come in. Anything that is not sitting is good."
Now we're not suggesting standing and watching the TV at home but if you've been non-sedentary at work using a standing desk you can afford some rest time watching your favourite TV programme for an hour or so!
Today we dropped off two EIGER Pro Standing Desks to one of the UK's leading employers to trial in their headquarters. They will be used in flexible working areas (hot desks) where most employees are laptop based. This is perfect for the EIGER Pro.
We couldn't believe the size of the car park and it was totally full, implicating that most employees sit down to get to work. The lifts were in full use and every office area we saw was full of inactive computer workers, sat down.
This is the norm but when you see it on such a large scale it's frightening.
When we told a few of the employees they were twice as likely to have a cardio health issue compared to a active manual worker they were shocked. They couldn't believe that the effects of just standing for 3 hours a day over a working year will burn more calories than running 10 marathons!
We've got a good feeling about this company and that active working will be met positively with the help of our EIGER Pro Standing Desk.
UKactive Chair Tanni Grey-Thompson appeared on international news network CNBC to urge the Government to tackle the ‘toxic’ toll of sedentary working cultures by incentivising employees to be active.
The legendary Paralympian and cross-bench peer noted that ‘physical inactivity costs the UK £20bn each year and is the cause of 37,000 premature deaths’ with desk-bound office culture fuelling the mounting inactivity crisis.
Statistics show that sitting at a desk for eight hours a day increases the risk of premature death by up to 60 per cent and is a major cause of a myriad of health problems.
Interviewed on major American news channel CNBC’s mid-morning show, Tanni called on the government to do more to promote workplace physical activity by incentivising active pursuits such as gym passes, fitness equipment and accessories.
Increasingly busy schedules for workers mean it’s tougher than ever to maintain an active lifestyle. Physical inactivity is one of the biggest drivers of ill-health, leading to high absenteeism rates (which cost the UK £29bn a year) and reduced productivity – which all conspire to hit bottom lines.
Tanni also urged the public to try and ‘take on the responsibility to get active’, through small or incremental lifestyle changes. This could be as little as ‘getting off the bus one stop early’ she said, or simply ‘walking between meetings’.
Less time sat at a desk has superb long term health benefits. Standing is a highly effective low level form of activity. So a standing desk makes perfect sense.
Do your job, run your business and improve your health at the same time!
Today we spent the morning with Alex De Palma shooting the all new EIGER Pro Standing Desk in a white screen studio. It's a highly organised affair. Lighting, positioning and a detailed schedule of all the shots we need to showcase the product effectively.
We can't wait to see the results and get them on the website asap!
Your spine is practically begging you to stand. An upright position puts the discs in your lower back in proper alignment and minimizes the pressure they endure. Sitting, on the other hand, forces the vertebrae to crunch down onto each other and put a lot more force, increasing the risk of chronic lower back pain.
When you're sitting, your spine is compressing. In space, you get taller by 1-2 inches, and if you lay in bed, you'll also get taller, because your discs are expanding. But when astronauts return from space or people get out of bed, their vertebrae collapse onto each other and cause pain. This is also happening when you sit for a long period of time.
One big culprit of the pain from a compressed spine is the damage done to the cushioning between the discs.
The muscles have weakened and the vertebrae start collapsing, squeezing the padding and nerves between the discs. This is a huge source of pain.
So less time in the chair and using a standing desk has major benefits for the long term health of your spine.
Ask anyone who has permanent back issues what they’d do to solve them. We guarantee you they’ll reply….anything!
Don’t wait for it to happen before you do anything. Get out of the chair and get standing now!
There is no louder wake up call than hitting middle age. Turning 40 is when most of us begin to question our mortality and take stock of our sedentary, desk-bound lives – and with good reason. In our fourth decade we put on weight more easily, get bigger hangovers, take longer to get fit and recover from injury more slowly. This is when we begin to listen to our bodies and try to avoid the things we know to be bad for us.
If you’re one of those who’ve spent the past decades sitting in front of a workplace computer and in the evening on the sofa drinking wine, you can change. If we live more healthily and exercise regularly, we can enjoy a longer fuller life. Disease is often a problem in our 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. We can do much to prevent it during our 40s.
We can’t slow the aging process, but we can adopt more every day healthy habits and now is the time.
Eat healthy. Walk more. Take the stairs. Lose the chair and get a standing desk. These are just some of the ways to a healthier and happier life.
Aileen Flynn is clinical specialist physiotherapist in musculoskeletal care at the the Beacon Hospital, Sandyford, Dublin. She is also a triathlete. She recently wrote this article for The Irish Times...
Modern life has resulted in many of us adapting to a sedentary lifestyle. If you are desk-bound at work and sit on your journey to and from it, you likely fall into this category.
Sitting, which has been dubbed “the new smoking”, comes with its own risks. It increases load on the spine and discs resulting in slouching, or the loss in the natural curve of the spine. Over time this can cause changes in muscle length and affect the strength and performance of the postural muscles in the spine and shoulders. In turn, this can result in pain and predisposition to injury. Muscles are healthiest when used, so it is no surprise that staying seated for eight or nine hours a day has negative repercussions.
As a chartered physiotherapist, I see many people with postural-related neck and back pain, namely aches and pains that can develop related to sitting, whether it be at a desk or driving. Many of these physical problems can be treated with physiotherapy to relieve the pain in the short-term.
The long-term solution includes advice on correcting posture and finding a solution for sitting or standing in a more efficient way that reduces load on the spine and prevents reoccurrence.
For those who sit at a desk and experience (or would simply like to prevent) neck and back pain, I recommend the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, stand up and focus on a point 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Even this short break will allow your spine to experience some relief and reduced load. It will also allow the small muscles of your eyes to rest, as well as the muscles around your shoulders and neck.
Circling your shoulders, turning your head gently from side to side, and reaching both arms up overhead are other good ways to reduce the negative effects of sitting. Standing desks are also becoming common in the UK workplace, and something I recommend quite regularly for clients.
Health risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle include increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, breast and colon cancer, and depression. The evidence is strong that these risks are greatly reduced by engaging in an active lifestyle.
Active individuals are less likely to have a hip or spinal fracture, and they exhibit higher levels of cardiovascular and muscular fitness. They are also more likely to achieve weight maintenance and have a healthier body mass and composition than sedentary individuals.
Exercising and standing can help reverse the negative effects associated with sitting. The World Health Organisation recommends that 18- to 64-year-olds do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity every week. Alternatively, they can opt for at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.
Activity can be easily integrated into daily routines. It should be performed in bouts of at least 10 minutes and can include transportation, occupational, housework or sports activities.
Edinburgh University recently released information that had some astounding content...middle-aged male office workers spend more time sitting down than pensioners.
Their study found 45 to 54-year-old men spend on average 7.8 hours per weekday sitting down, compared to 7.4 hours for men aged over-75.
Sedentary work is the main reason for the inactivity, with sedentary time (ST) defined as time spent in any waking activity done while sitting or reclined, including working, eating, reading, watching TV or spending time on a computer.
Experts are calling for action to tackle high levels of ST, which has been linked to health risks including cardiovascular disease and type two diabetes. High levels of sedentary time - more than seven hours a day - increases the risk of an early death, cardiovascular disease, type two diabetes and some cancers, even if people are physically active at other times of the day.
Lead researcher Tessa Strain said: "Large parts of the population are dangerously sedentary, something we have underestimated. We need to tackle high levels of sedentary time in early and middle age, when patterns may develop. Our findings suggest that changing habits in the workplace could be an appropriate place to start, given how much time we spend sitting there every day."
A recent review by other researchers found "tentative evidence" to suggest sit-stand desks could reduce work sedentary time, at least in the short term.
Today we dropped off 3 standing desks (a BigJack Manual, a MiniJack and an EIGER Laptop) for a 6 week trial at one of Manchester's largest councils.
The UK workplace is definitely starting to understand the negatives of sedentary behaviour and how standing desks are a significant part of the solution to improve health and well-being.
"We're being asked more and more for solutions around active working and are delighted to trial this range of standing desk solutions" said the Health and Wellbeing Manager.
We'll keep you updated.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in America recommend that adults engage in at least 2.5 hours of physical activity per week. The CDC also reports that only 1 in 5 adults get this much physical activity. People who do not get the exercise they need are more likely to die prematurely or develop a range of serious illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression and some forms of cancer.
Not only do adults not get enough exercise, but teenagers are even worse!
Fewer than 3 in 10 high school students get a minimum of 60 minutes of daily physical activity, which is the level of exercise recommended by both the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Teenagers are at the highest risk of being physically inactive, and in their late teens, this group was likely to get as little exercise as 60 year olds.
Prof. Vadim Zipunnikov commented…"Activity levels at the end of adolescence are alarmingly low, and by age 19, they were comparable to 60-year-olds. For school-age children, the primary window for activity was the afternoon between 2 and 6 p.m. So the big question is how do we modify daily schedules, in schools for example, to be more conducive to increasing physical activity?"
And that’s where we come in. Getting the UK’s children active whilst learning in the classroom using standing desks makes total sense. It both improves both activity levels and brain function. Vitally, it creates a positive habit that is taken into adult life.
Simple way to beat off arthritis: Balanced diet and exercise can help to overcome an awful and painful condition.
Research suggests simple changes like moving more and eating the right food could be the key to tackling the painful condition that affects 10 million UK adults. Some 8.5 million sufferers have the most common form osteoarthritis – which is caused by wear and tear on joints.
For decades it was thought to simply be part of growing old but now research suggests cases of arthritis could be rocketing because of chronically unhealthy lifestyles
Chronic diseases all have an inflammatory component and this seems to be driven by our sedentary lifestyles. Humans in modern day life move less and our diets have changed – we are basically sitting on multiple health time bombs. The answer is to eat well, control weight and move more. Joints need regular movement to work properly.
Arthritis causes stiffness, swelling, and tenderness when joints are moved – generally in the knees, hips and hands. It typically affects people over the age of 40 and was previously thought to be due to muscles weakening and the body being less able to heal itself, or the joints slowly wearing out over time.
But the major review found the onset of the incurable condition is not inevitable.
The search for new ways of treating debilitating complaints comes after research showed nearly half of all British adults now live with chronic back pain or arthritis.
It’s this simple. Eat well. Move more. Walk. Stairs. Standing Desks.
Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson doesn't need much introducing as one of the UK's most famous and successful paralympians. She is now at the head of UK Active. Prior to the recent UK elections she wrote about her manifesto to get Britain more active. This is what she said...
Thursday sees people across the UK, some for the first time, put pen to paper on ballot papers in pursuit of a brighter future. Many of the challenges we must overcome to achieve this – a stretched NHS, an ageing society, divided communities, the economy and the impact of Brexit – have rightly featured heavily in this election campaign.
A sedentary lifestyle significantly increases risk of up to 20 conditions including heart disease, type-2 diabetes, cancers and mental health problems. But there is a golden thread which runs through each of them that we cannot afford to overlook: physical activity.
The miracle cure
Dubbed the “miracle cure” by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, physical activity has the power to transform our health, communities and our economy. The potential rewards of an Active Britain are huge. But if we fail to act now, the consequences will be disastrous.
Physical inactivity causes twice as many deaths as obesity and costs the UK economy an estimated £20 billion each year. Living a sedentary lifestyle significantly increases risk of up to 20 conditions including heart disease, type-2 diabetes, cancers and mental health problems.
If we want the NHS to survive and indeed thrive, we need a radical shift towards prevention over cure. For the NHS, tasked with finding billions in efficiency savings by 2020, around 70 per cent of its budget is currently consumed by the treatment of long-term conditions such as the above.
Put simply, if we want the NHS to survive and indeed thrive, we need a radical shift towards prevention over cure. Our focus must switch from waiting to treat illness to proactively promoting wellness.
Our children are less active than ever
The obvious place to start is with young people. Today’s children are the least active ever and we need a serious shake-up of the school day if we are to save Generation Inactive from a lifetime of ill-health.
It’s not just a case of buying more bats and balls for the PE cupboard, we have to embrace creative solutions. That’s why there should be a commitment to the regular measurement of children’s activity levels – as we do with all other subjects – to measure progress and ensure that those children falling behind receive extra support.
We know healthy habits are heard-earned and easily lost, so why not roll out active mile schemes across the country, as a sure-fire way to ensure children are moving every day? And better still, let’s use money from the sugar tax to open up schools as summer camps so that all children – particularly the most deprived – have access to free activity sessions and healthy meals.
Giving our children an active start in life is essential, but how do we help maintain active lifestyles once they’re out of the playground and into the workplace?
The toxic toll of sedentary office culture is wreaking havoc on our workers’ health. Many workers struggle to fit exercise into their busy days, leading to higher rates of absenteeism (which costs the UK £29bn a year) and reduced productivity across the workforce. Now is the perfect time to spark a sea change with some sensible policies to boost both bottom lines and the wellbeing of our workforce.
Why not support businesses (and not just the big ones) by making it easier for them to offer employee benefits such as gym memberships? The Treasury could broaden the hugely successful cycle to work salary sacrifice scheme – estimated to have saved £5.1bn through health benefits accrued through participation – to encompass gym passes, fitness products and accessories.
It goes without saying that active schools and workplaces will bring huge physical and mental health benefits, but it’s the societal impact of physical activity which is often overlooked. By putting physical activity at the heart of community infrastructure, we can empower all sections of society to lead more active lifestyles.
Whatever choice each of us makes on Thursday for who should lead Britain over the next five years, one thing is clear. In order to build a happier, healthier and wealthier nation, we must strive to make physical activity the natural choice for all aspects of life.
Carrying on from yesterday here's some more information on how inactivity affects our major organs and health...
When you sit down all day, you reduce the amount of oxygen entering your body. Sitting results in less space for your lungs to expand when you breathe and limits the amount of oxygen that fills your lungs.
Sitting down can limit the fresh blood and oxygen going to the brain, meaning it can decrease levels of our ‘feel-good’ hormones, endorphins, and slow down your brain function. It has an impact on your mental wellbeing, not just your physical health.
You might also find it difficult to concentrate on certain tasks as your day progresses. This is because the longer you sit, the more sluggish your brain becomes. This is partly due to the limited amount of oxygen absorbed by your lungs.
Diabetes is also a well-known factor linked to prolonged periods of sitting. In 2011, a study showed a decline in insulin response within just one day of prolonged sitting.
Muscles that become inactive don’t respond as easily to insulin - a hormone that is produced by your pancreas that helps with the breakdown of glucose for energy. This means that the pancreas is having to produce more and more insulin to break down glucose, and this often leads to diabetes.
Sitting down can cause your abdomen to compress, which slows down digestion. This can lead to issues such as bloating, heartburn and constipation.
Additionally when we’re sat down, our bowel functions less efficiently than when we’re stood up.
Sitting down can have a “severe negative impact on overall health and well being” but it is possible to build a healthier routine into your lifestyle, to counteract a sedentary job.
Chris Allen from The British Heart Foundation said “While more research is needed to fully understand the link between sedentary behaviour and heart disease, it’s well established that at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week helps to lower the risk of a heart attack or stroke.”
“We would urge everyone to get up and get moving at work – whether it’s taking a brisk walk at lunch or dusting off that old bike for the morning commute.”
Other simple ways to get moving throughout the day, while in the office. These include:
- Stand up when talking on the phone.
- Set a timer on your phone for 30 minutes and stand up from your desk and walk around for a minute or two.
- Have standing or walking meetings.
- Learn to improve your seating posture. The better you sit, the less the effects on your spine, ribcage and lungs.
- Better still...invest in a standing desk!
We spend, on average, almost nine hours a day sat down - and that’s not taking into account the eight hours we spend lying down, asleep. You might be sat there thinking ‘not me’, but when you break your day down into time spent commuting, sitting at work, commuting back home again and sitting down to binge-watch a box set , it’s easy to see how we manage it.
But here’s the fact…our bodies aren’t designed for such lazy living, they’re designed to move.
“We can see this from the way our bodies are structured,” Mohamed Taha, clinical director at Form Clinic. “We are made up of 360 joints and over 700 muscles that move your skeleton. Our vascular and nervous systems depend on movement to function.”
To highlight the effects of a sedentary lifestyle on the human body, over the next few days we’re going to release how sitting down all day impacts various organs and bodily systems.
Back And Shoulders
Many of us have felt the effects of sitting for long periods, especially on our back and shoulders. But why?
Taha explained: “The average person is not able to sit down for more than three minutes without falling into a slumped or ‘slouched’ posture. Over time, this creates wear and tear in your discs and joints, overworks your spinal ligaments and puts an enormous strain on your back muscles that are stretched to accommodate this slouched posture.
Additionally, if you are in front of a computer, it’s natural to hold your neck forward while concentrating, which can cause strain on the neck and shoulders. “
Legs And Hips
According to Dr Clare Morrison sitting down for long periods can “lead to muscle atrophy in the leg and gluteal areas, where the muscles weaken and waste away. Sitting also causes hip flexor muscles to shorten, leading to issues with hip joints.”
Another issue is that prolonged sitting can lead to poor circulation. This could lead to swollen ankles, varicose veins and even deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Heart And Cardiovascular System
Humans are built to stand up – and our heart and cardiovascular system work more effectively this way. “Too many of us are tied to our desks, and research shows that this could be increasing our risk of developing heart disease,” said Chris Allen at the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
A 2010 study compared adults who spent less than two hours a day in front of a TV versus a group that spent more than four hours a day in front of one. It discovered an increase of about 125% in cardiovascular disease in the group that spent more time sitting down, as well as a 46% increased risk of death from other causes.
Additionally, research from the University of Chester in 2013 found that sitting down burns 21% fewer calories per minute than standing up - a solid case for investing in a stand-up desk.
“Long periods of sitting are also responsible for deactivating an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase,” added Taha, “which is responsible for the breakdown of fats in the blood vessels, and can lead to blockage of the blood vessels of your heart.”
Today we dropped off 7 trial EIGER classroom standing desks at Brudenell Primary School in Leeds (UK).
Brudenell Primary is a forward thinking school that is part of Active School Leeds and are keen to improve both classroom performance and well-being.
Jo Davies is the Co-Headteacher who will be monitoring the children over the next 2 weeks.
Another step to making the UK one of the leading pioneers of active learning classrooms.
A moderate-intensity walking regimen may reduce symptoms of mild cognitive impairment that are linked to poor blood vessel health in the brain, a small study suggests.
Participants with vascular dementia who walked three hours per week for six months had improved reaction times and other signs of improved brain function, the Canadian team reports in British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Vascular cognitive impairment, or VCI, refers to mildly impaired thinking or more advanced dementia that's due to the same kinds of blood vessel damage seen with heart disease elsewhere in the body. It is the second most common cause of dementia after Alzheimer's disease.
'It is well established that regular aerobic exercise improves cardiovascular health and cerebrovascular health,' the study's senior author Teresa Liu-Ambrose told Reuters Health. More specifically, it reduces one's risk of developing chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes (type II), and high cholesterol. These chronic conditions have a negative impact on the brain - likely through compromised blood flow to the brain.'
Before the exercise program began and at the end of six weeks, all the participants also had functional MRI brain scans and other tests that measured neural activity and cognitive ability.
People in the aerobic training group had significant improvements in their reaction times on the cognitive tests, and showed changes in their brain activity that made them resemble healthy brains more. The comparison group showed no changes.
Overall, exercise appears to be a promising strategy for promoting cognitive health in older adults, Liu-Ambrose said.
Every day active is key to our health. We're always talking about walking, stair climbing and of course sitting less and standing more.
Let's get the UK fitter and healthier. Why not take a walk to your office and then spend time at a standing desk!
The World Health Organisation released a report that compared the “obesity-related behaviours” for youngsters across 42 nations. It reveals UK kids are among the laziest.
Lead researcher Dr Jo Inchley, from the University of St Andrews, said social media was impacting on kids’ health. She said: “We know there are risks, such as cyber bullying and impact on mental health, as well as things like missing out on sleep.
“Also, there are longer-term impacts on physical health from being sedentary. One of the main challenges is that this kind of activity (social media and computer use) is so much part of young people’s lives these days.” She said more needs to be done to get kids moving throughout the day.
Dr Steven Mann, research director for UK Active said the findings were “alarming”.
He said: “Modern life has changed, but when teens are spending hours hunched over Facebook, Instagram and video games, they simply aren’t getting the exercise that they need.
“These alarming inactivity figures show that playtime is over before it has started for too many children, putting them at far greater risk of future conditions like heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.”
That's where we know we can help be introducing standing desks in to classroom environments and showing a new generation that they can use technology actively.
This in turn would have a positive long term effect in the workplace - people who don't want to sit for 8 hours a day for life.
Australian Olympian Jane Flemming says schoolkids should have to stand up in half their lessons to battle the bulge. She is also campaigning to move drop-off zones further from the school gates to entice children to walk more.
The former heptathlete and long jumper says obesity has reached crisis point. One in four Australian children aged two to 17 is now overweight or obese.
“I would love to see legislation that requires every second school lesson to be at a stand-up desk, and for safe drop off zones for schools to be further from the gate.”
“It is about incidental activity and getting people off their butts. The biggest decline in physical activity occurs the day someone starts school.”
Flemming, who will discuss obesity at the Australian Medical Association’s national conference on Sunday, added....“Sitting is just a shocker for brain function and physical health. When I was at school the fat kid was considered the stand out whereas now they are the norm.”
Regarding drop-off zones, Flemming said: “It’s trying to encourage people to move more. People need to get into the habit of using their legs in the form of transport.”
Flemming competed at two Olympics and won two gold medals at the 1990 Commonwealth Games, in long jump and the heptathlon, in which she scored a record total.
The Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute probed the benefits of height-adjustable desks with a trial at Mont Albert Primary School in 2014.
Students reported better concentration, and although there was no change in their “weight status” the school now uses a mix of desks.
But a later Deakin University trial at two high schools found students who had height-adjustable desks cut their class time spent sitting by 40 per cent. They also expended 38 kilocalories more per lesson — enough to prevent 5kg in weight gain over a year.
The institute’s head of physical activity research, Prof David Dunstan, said reducing the time children spent sitting had health benefits.
“The movement from sitting to standing throughout the day is likely to lead to increased blood flow,” he said.
“We are becoming more aware that too much sitting is not good for health.
Experts discovered that as little as 14 days spent sitting around reduces our muscle mass, increases body fat and raises the potential for high cholesterol. And they warned that taking at least 10,000 steps a day - widely regarded as a target for maintaining good health - should be something people strive for to avoid the risk of disease.
Dr Dan Cuthbertson, who led the new study and is presenting his findings at the European Congress on Obesity in Porto, Portugal, said any physical activity - even walking - is better than being sedentary.
He said: “This doesn’t need to be structured exercise - it could be things like getting off the bus a stop earlier or walking to the shops instead of driving. If you think of a typical mum at home who is always busy and on the go but doesn’t go the gym regularly, there are still significant health benefits in what she’s doing.”
Dr Cuthbertson’s team, from the University of Liverpool, followed a group of 28 healthy people of a normal weight with an average age of 25. Participants usually took 10,000 steps per day or more but did not have more than two hours of structured exercise - such as going to the gym or playing sport - per week
For 14 days, people wore a SenseWear armband, which lets researchers track levels of physical activity, steps, sleep and lifestyle. The group also had health checks on things such as fat, muscle mass and physical fitness at the start and the end of the study.
For the research, people were told to reduce their activity levels by more than 80per cent to around 1,500 steps per day. They were also told to eat their normal meals and keep a food diary. Over the course of the study, exercise levels dropped from a daily average of 161 minutes to 36 minutes. At the same time, the amount of time spent sedentary - such as sitting down - increased by an average of 129 minutes.
The results showed significant changes to the body, including loss of muscle mass (average loss 0.36kg) and increases in total body fat, with central body fat going up by around 1per cent. There was also an increase in liver fat and an increase in bad cholesterol markers. Overall, cardio-respiratory fitness levels also declined.
Dr Cuthbertson warned that people who did not exercise risked becoming obese and developing illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes.
“The take-home message is two-fold,” he said. “If you do formal exercise, it may not be enough and keeping active as part of your daily life is important. And for those who don’t exercise, avoiding prolonged sitting and increasing your daily step counts has clear health benefits.”
He added: “It does appear that there is something in this idea of 10,000 steps a day being good for you. People have become obsessed with 10,000 steps a day and this research shows it’s a good thing.”
He said people in the study were young and fit.
“If you take obese people, older people or those at risk of diabetes, all the risks of a sedentary lifestyle may be even greater,” he added. “Our day-to-day physical activity is key to abstaining from disease and health complications. People must avoid sitting for long periods of time.”
So once again, the virtues of using a standing desk everyday has significant health and wellbeing benefits. Why wait until it's too late?