17 September 2015
Sitting down too much is bad news for our health but many of us have little choice when it comes to spending a large part of each day at a desk, counter or check out.
Studies have linked excessive sitting with being overweight and obese, Type 2 Diabetes, some types of cancer and even premature death. Prolonged sitting is thought to slow the metabolism, which affects the body's ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down body fat.
Many adults in the UK spend more than seven hours a day sitting or lying, and this typically increases with age to 10 hours or more. This includes watching TV, using a computer, reading, doing homework, travelling by car, bus or train – behaviours referred to as sedentary – but does not include sleeping.
While we can’t always have an active or outdoor job or avoid a long commute in the car or on public transport, there are ways we can reduce sitting time throughout the day. Tips include:
stand on the train or bus
take the stairs or walk up escalators
set a reminder to get up every 30 minutes
alternate working while seated with standing
place a laptop on a box or similar to work standing
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
Dr Margaret Sanderson, local GP and chair of North Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) advises breaking up periods of sitting as much as possible.
"Try to do some tasks standing, like telephone calls, catch ups or even meetings,” she suggests. “Some people spend their breaks checking their phones but if you’re going to do this, maybe do it standing up or at least move away from your desk.
“On an evening a lot of people simply swap their desk for the sofa, or work computer for their laptop or games console. While we all relax in different ways, it’s a good idea to try and fit some activity or more active hobbies into your leisure time. If you have children, it’s a good example to set at home as habits we learn when young tend to stick with us into adulthood.”
You can get advice on increasing physical activity whatever your age by visiting the NHS website and the Change4Life website is packed with realistic support to help busy families squeeze more activity into a hectic daily schedule.
Cllr Rob Waltham, cabinet member for Health and Strategic Projects at North Lincolnshire Council, said:
“We all must look after our health, and keeping physically active is a major part of this. Many people sit at a desk day-in-day-out at work, but there are plenty of ways to keep active whilst at work. On your lunch break, you could go for a walk or instead of using the lift you could walk up the stairs. Just simple things like this make a huge difference. If you don’t live too far away from your place of work, biking to work would also be a great way to keep fit. We have invested in cycle ways and pathways in North Lincolnshire, such as the Ancholme Valley Way and the cycle path from Crowle to Scunthorpe to encourage more people to get active.
“Sitting all day isn’t good for anyone. When you get home try plan activities to do with your family or friends rather than all sitting and watching TV. You will notice that you energy levels increase the more active you are.
“Children should learn from a young age about the importance of looking after their health and maintaining a good level of fitness. Parents should encourage healthy habits from their children and it is more likely they will keep this up as they get older.”