Sitting Is The New Smoking

How sedentary are we? In a typical day we spent on average between 7 and 8 hours sleeping, sitting at work 7 ½ to 9 hours, leisure time anywhere between 1 ½ and 4 hours versus active about 3 hours.

This sitting epidemic is wreaking havoc on our health, even daily exercise is not enough to counteract excessive sitting. Key fat burners shut off the minute we sit. Every two hours spent just sitting reduces blood flow, raises blood sugar and drops good cholesterol levels by 20%.

Health experts are now describing sitting as ‘the new smoking’, a ticking time bomb of ill health just waiting to explode. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) cost to the UK economy of more than £1bn every year in sick days due to back, neck and muscle problems and that figure is still rising. Compelling research has also found that those who sit for eight hours a day are twice more likely than those sitting for under four hours to have cardiovascular disease.

In 2010, a study by the American Cancer Society found that women who sat more than six hours a day were 37% more likely to die prematurely than women who sat for less than three hours. This rate is 18% higher for men.

 Sitting Is The New Smoking

Campaign group Get Britain Standing aims to get the nation back on its feet and help turn back the rising tide of ill health that is caused by spending too much time sitting down. They’ve organised national ‘On Your Feet Britain’ day on 24th April with their official charity partner British Heart Foundation. Offices across the country will take part in a day challenge that focuses on people looking after themselves more at work.

Everyone in the office who wants to get involved donates £2 to British Heart Foundation and agrees on a series of challenges that they must all meet in the day. The official ‘On Your Feet Britain’ challenge page, suggested the following ideas…

  • Run a lunchtime fitness workshop for the office.
  • An alert will sound at random times and everyone must stand up when it does. A fine for those caught napping.
  • Take regular breaks from your computer, stand up, stretch and walk around the office. Ignore the bemused looks.
  • Make phone calls standing up.
  • Use the stairs.
  • Have standing or walking meetings.
  • Have one less chair than people at meetings.
  • Get everyone to move around with each new agenda item.
  • Ban internal emails. Everyone must walk to colleagues to discuss work. Be prepared that some people may have aged – depending on how long you’ve left it.
  • Organise a lunchtime walk. Walk to work, or get off a few stops earlier and walk the rest of the way.

The Remedy: Sit less. Stand more. Start now.

Written by Jim Hetherton

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