I’ve noticed a large amount of research in recent years surrounding health concerns related to sitting all day, or more broadly, our sedentary lifestyles.

The effects of sitting at a desk all day, driving a car, van or truck, or other sedentary roles in the workplace is being linked with health concerns ranging from musculoskeletal dysfunction and weakness, to the slowing of the body’s metabolic capabilities.

“Essentially, the body is ‘shutting down’ while sitting and there is little muscle activity,” says Professor Biddle of Victoria University. Many in the community have embraced (or at least been aware of) the ‘Paleo’ eating habits and diet of our caveman ancestors, but what about a look at their lifestyle? Always on the move, lean and fit to hunt, the human body is made for movement. This lack of movement is linked to weight gain, diabetes and broader risks of heart and circulatory issues.

 

What can you do to break your sitting routine?

  • add more steps to your commute- park far from work, walk a few extra bus or train stops, or walk the whole way
  • stand up and walk around/stretch every 30 minutes
  • walk around when you’re on the phone
  • walk to meetings and stand around a high table for the duration (you clients/colleagues will like that!)

Professor Biddle ads:¬†“If someone goes to the gym or walks for 30 to 45 minutes a day, but sits down the rest of the time, then they are still described as having a ‘sedentary lifestyle’.

“All-day movement is now seen as being just as important for the maintenance of good health as traditional exercise.”

 

Step to it!

Apple’s iPhone built-in software, Fitbit’s gadgets and many apps for our smartphones make tracking steps easier than ever. Event planner Paul Fields covers anywhere up to 15km when on site- “that’s about 26,000 steps for me”, he adds.

“On quieter days or during admin tasks I look at the highs of a monthly graph and feel lazy. Often my back is stiff, and my appetite down- I ¬†much prefer to be on my feet.”

For those of us in more sedentary roles, where scooting around a wedding or conference is not required (thankfully?), the ‘common’ opinions seem to range between 8,000 and 12,000 steps daily to help maintain overall health. With the help of easily accessible technology and a quick “best step tracking apps” Google search, you can push yourself to get up from the desk and walk that little bit more.

 

Professor Biddle’s comments and article on the effects of sitting at a desk all day can be found here.