Too much sitting down?

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Too much sitting down is making us ill

A recent study shows that 18 years of your adult life are likely to be spent sitting down.

The average person leads a very sedentary lifestyle – spending 51 hours and 44 minutes seated during a typical week.

This is more than seven hours a day. Four and a half of these are spent working at a desk, with the rest accounted for by sofa sitting and commuting.

About half as much time spent standing up

The study of 2,000 adults found them spending just four hours a day on their feet, around half the time they spend sitting down.

More than half of respondents said that they sit still for so long it gives them a sore back.

Forty-five per cent said they have no idea how much exercise they should do each week, and three quarters say their workplace does nothing to encourage more movement.

The World Health Organisation recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, or 30 minutes on at least five days.

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Too much sitting at work

• Eight in 10 say they enjoy sitting down for work, but also admit they should do more exercise and spend more time moving around.

• Half of people say they are simply too busy at work to move around.

• A tenth worry that colleagues will think they’re not working hard enough if they take a standing break.

• One in 10 people have had health problems caused by too much sitting.

• More than a quarter would like a standing desk.

Plenty of time spent sitting down at home, too

Too much sitting down isn’t just confined to the workplace.

• On average, we spend 10 hours and 45 minutes a week hunched over computers, laptops or tablets at home.

• We sit for over five and a half hours a week while eating.

• Nearly 11 hours a week goes on sitting down to read, watch movies or play video games.

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Paul Chamberlain, head of nutrition and education at Solgar UK, which commissioned the research said:

“Experts have long been flagging the increasing rates of inactivity in our countries, with movement being stripped out of our modern lifestyles.

“With our lives often revolving around long commutes and long hours in the office, as a society we’re in real danger of spending too long taking the weight off, and not long enough exercising.

“Our study found that people only exercise for a fraction of the amount of time they spend sitting down, which can lead to joint and muscle problems.

“People forget that we were not built to sit still all the time but designed to move”.

Inactivity leads to joint pain

Your body is designed for action, and extended periods spent in one position leads to stiffness, pain and inflexibility. The back and knee joints are particularly affected.

Arthritis is becoming more prevalent with each succeeding generation. Increased obesity is a major factor, counteracting beneficial changes such as much lower rates of smoking.

Obesity and inactivity form a vicious circle: too little exercise leads to weight gain; the extra stress and inflammation of joints causes pain which makes people even less likely to exercise.

Exercise strategies to keep active even with reduced mobility

Disability or advanced age can reduce mobility, so that many traditional forms of exercise are not possible.

Swimming or water-based aerobics are often good solutions. There is more information about keeping active here

Sport is an enjoyable way of getting more exercise. To find out which sports might suit you with a physical impairment, try the Parasport app in our adapted sports section

If you want to try and incorporate more standing up in your working day, find out more about sit to stand desks here

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