Opinion piece – Stand up Australia – sitting is as bad as smoking

Last night, 60 minutes had a story on the devastating effects of sitting. Yes we absolutely need to get talking about how ridiculously sedentary our lives have become but I’m afraid this story failed to truly emphasise what we need to do about it.


The story can be viewed at http://www.jump-in.com.au/show/60minutes/stories/2014/september/stand-up-australia/

The highlights were:

  • A reflection on the catastrophic effects of our sedentary jobs and we were told ‘the latest research says sitting is as bad as smoking’. Yikes! They said sitting can be linked with diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
  • Their case study, Donna, shed 20kg by doing some big changes around the office. This included getting up hourly to move around the office and standing at her desk.
  • You have a 40% higher risk of early death if you sit on a daily basis for 11 hours or more versus 4 hours
  • You can decrease your blood pressure and improve your energy levels if you stand or light walk around the office while you are working, versus sitting at the office.

Be warned that to loose weight and improve health, it won’t just come from standing at the desk and wandering around the office every now and then throughout the day. People who sit for the doomed 11 hours or more during the day are probably more likely to have sedentary behaviour with most other aspects of their life, don’t exercise and don’t give a hoot about their diet. And this is why the story was so misleading. There are too many variables to make the research they were talking about ‘high quality’. The diseases – cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes – aka lifestyle diseases have so many contributing factors and sitting is just one variable – absolutely an important variable but it is just one variable. A healthy lifestyle must also factor in regular exercise, a good diet, not smoking, not drinking and reducing your stress.

We still MUST do our 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise and in addition, take on board some of these suggestions of how to keep active during the day. Suggestions include:

  • As per the story, I love the idea of doing a ‘walk and talk’ meeting rather than sitting in a board room (see story for full details).
  • Perhaps try a standing desk. If you do, don’t start off by standing all day because if you aren’t used to it, you’ll may end up with a sore back anyway.
  • Get up every 30-60mins and MOVE around the office. You could
    • walk around your floor
    • Do some calf raises (as this gets blood pumping in your legs)
    • Hold a stretch to prevent your joints from getting too stiff
  • Set your alarm to remind you to move every 30 mins because, lets face it, it is so easy to get engrossed in our work and forget about moving
  • Take the stairs not the lift or elevator

For a truly healthy lifestyle, yes we could all improve our incidental movement throughout the day, but don’t forget WE MUST also keep up our exercise and have a good diet!

About Physiotonic

Physiotonic are expert Sports Physiotherapists who run group exercise classes. We focus specifically on buttock muscle strengthening, deep core activation and flexibility. This will help you improve your posture. We specialise in helping runners to improve their running technique and running efficiency. The Physiotonic blog has posts on all sorts of health and fitness tips to help get you on your way!

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