During the COVID pandemic those of us with desk-based jobs have ended up spending around 65-75% of our working hours sitting at our desks, including prolonged periods without moving or getting up.
But sitting for more than four hours a day can increase our risk of long-term health conditions, back pain and muscle degeneration. And sitting for at least eight hours a day could increase the risk of premature death by up to 60%.
Even if we exercise for at least 30 minutes most days, long periods of being sedentary mean we’re storing up health problems. So it’s more important than ever to make sure that we think about how we can purposefully incorporate movement into our working day.
Our bodies are designed to stand and move for long periods of time, and we automatically shift our weight and move around while standing. Standing prevents both the repetitive stress and muscle degeneration that is caused by sitting. Experts recommend building up to splitting your time evenly between standing and sitting, accumulating at least two hours per day of standing and light activity, eventually progressing to a total accumulation of four hours.
I was in a meeting last week when someone shared a photo of their ‘rise and fall’ desk. He could adjust the desk height and spend some time standing, meaning less time sitting.
Get Britain Standing has tips to help you get started with sit-stand, including the safety standards recommended for any standing computer desk.
Take regular breaks
Experts advise breaking up long periods of sitting time with one to two minutes of activity, ideally every 30 minutes. The Health and Safety Executive suggests at least five minutes in every hour should be spent away from a computer screen, but it’s also important to make sure you change posture regularly, and refocus eyes. Short, frequent breaks are better than longer, less frequent breaks, so a five-10 minute break after 50-60 minutes is better than a 20-minute break every three hours.
Stretch at your desk
Watch this video from the Here For Each Other physios about some simple stretching exercises you can do in your chair.
Kickstart some new healthy working habits by joining the On Your Feet Day challenge of sitting less and moving more on 29 April 2021. Visit the On Your Feet Britain website for fun ideas and downloadable resources. Challenge your teammates – even virtually – to wiggle, waggle and generally sit less!