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17 Jun, 2013

Too Much Sitting Not Good for Workers’ Health: Study


SYDNEY, June 17 (Xinhua) — A study has found that for desk- bound office workers, introducing interventions such as sit/stand workstations can reduce sitting time by over an hour each working day — leading to better health.

“What we know now is that adults still need their minimum 30 minutes of exercise a day, but it’s also important to avoid prolonged sitting to reduce your risk of early death from heart disease,” said NSW Heart Foundation CEO Kerry Doyle.

Doyle said she was intrigued by a so-called “Meerkat phenomenon ” introduced to the Heart Foundation HQ, where staff continually switch between sitting and standing throughout the day.

The Heart Foundation and University of Sydney study tracked 40 staff over a three month period to see whether changes in sitting behaviour were detected. The findings of the project were released Monday at the Australian Health Promotion Association Conference.

Feedback from staff showed a “positive impact on their health and wellbeing in the workplace,” according to Michelle Daley, Heart Foundation Research Lead and Active Living Senior Manager.

“Some staff found they improved their posture by standing more, or suffered less back pain. Others said they stayed more alert and were able to focus on their work better, especially later in the afternoon which has benefits for both the individual and their employer,” she added.

Since the end of the research trial, more than 50 percent of participants said they had continued to use a sit/stand workstation permanently.

“The main challenge now is to work out whether these results are maintained in the longer term and whether we would find similar results if we tried this in other workplaces,” Daley said.

“Some other tips I’d recommend to sit less and move more throughout the day are taking the stairs instead of the lift, standing up to take a call and moving your meetings to the outdoors by going for a walk instead of catching up around the boardroom table,” she added.