Whether it’s at a desk, on public transport, or in a car for many Australians modern life often involves long periods of sitting on their behind. This tendency towards a sedentary lifestyle is now the subject of a range of scientific studies.
Unsurprisingly, the news isn’t good. According to Chris Tzar, Director of the Lifestyle Clinic at the University of New South Wales, if you spend too much time sitting down, this increases your risk of obesity and all its associated health problems (type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers to name a few) as well as back and neck pain, reduced concentration and general muscle soreness.
But luckily, it’s not all doom and gloom.
“There is plenty of research out there revealing that even a modest amount of time spent standing rather than sitting can have tremendous health benefits, helping to ward off the threat of weight gain and other negative health outcomes,” says Mr Tzar.
On Your Feet –The Standing Workstation
At Coca-Cola Australia, encouraging a healthy office culture that supports physical activity has long been a focus, with the company piloting stand workstations at its offices in North Sydney, NSW in 2013.
“In the last few years, the business has placed a greater emphasis on ensuring our people are encouraged and supported to include physical activity into their working day," said Ivan Smeets, Coca-Cola South Pacific human resources director.
"These standing workstations were introduced due to popular demand and have been very warmly received."
Simple Ways to Workout While You Work
Desk jobs needn’t be stagnant. Even if your office doesn’t offer standing work stations, according to Chris Tsar there are plenty of other easy ways to improve your incidental exercise and hence improve your health.
“We are designed by nature as beings who are supposed to move. Making small changes to our daily routine, such as printing to the furthest printer, or standing up and moving every 30 minutes can have a significant beneficial impact on your health,” says Chris Tsar.
“It’s important we change the way we perceive physical activity, ensuring we’re not just focusing on our nightly gym sessions that are often just too easy to cancel. We need to refocus on the incidental exercise we can do throughout the day, that's the exercise that makes all the difference.”
Below are just a few tips to help achieve easy incidental exercise.
- We all have mobile phones so try being mobile and walk around when you use yours
- Make face to face contact instead of sending an email
- Walk around the block at lunch time as opposed to sitting and eating
- Get off one or two stops early when using public transport and walk the remainder
- Wear a pedometer and challenge yourself to reach 10,000 steps every day