Please stand up while you read this article. At least, that’s what a committee of health experts suggests you do, after researching the harmful effects of sitting in desk-based jobs.
Sitting has become the health scourge of this generation, like smoking before it. Month after month, studies are produced that show our mentally taxing jobs and sedentary work habits may be killing us.
Consider, for instance, that on average we have been burning nearly 200 fewer calories at work than we used to in 1960. And for every additional hour spent sitting during the day, the probability of falling prey to diabetes and cardiovascular diseases rises. This goes for the young as well as the old. According to official records, about a quarter of the working days lost in the UK were the result of back, neck and muscle pains.
Even if you catch up on exercise on the weekend, it’s not enough. Like sleep, you can never catch up on being active, instead you have to make daily activity a habit.
This is what Public Health England, the expert committee, recommends:
- Start with two hours a day of standing and light activity, and slowly progress to four hours a day.
- Try to break up continuous periods of sitting down or standing up. Sit-stand desks are highly recommended.
- Along with other health-improving activities, such as eating better, drinking less alcohol, avoiding smoking and stress, offices should encourage employees to be more active at work.
If you are not used to standing while working, you are bound to experience some discomfort at first. So take it easy when adjusting to the new routine by taking regular sitting breaks. Still, the message has never been clearer: it’s time to get off your chair.