Office workers should spend a minimum of two hours on their feet at work – building up to an ideal four hours – in order to avoid the ill effects of a sedentary lifestyle, according to a study co-commissioned by Public Health England.
Office workers should be on their feet for a minimum of two hours a day during working hours, according to the first official health guidelines.
The guidance, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, warns that UK sedentary behaviour now accounts for 60 per cent of people’s waking hours and for 70 per cent of those at high risk of a long term condition.
The derived guidance is as follows: for those occupations which are predominantly desk based, workers should aim to initially progress towards accumulating 2 h/day of standing and light activity (light walking) during working hours, eventually progressing to a total accumulation of 4 h/day (prorated to part-time hours). To achieve this, seated-based work should be regularly broken up with standing-based work, the use of sit–stand desks, or the taking of short active standing breaks.
I’ve written before about sitting killing us, so was interested to hear that an official organisation like Public Health England are undertaking research into how long we should be standing to be healthy and starting to form guidelines.
The key points are that we should be starting from a base of 2 hours of standing a day, during the working day, building to 4 hours a day.
It’s worth clarifying that the studies weren’t just about standing, they were looking into “getting workers to stand and/or move more frequently”. It’s not just about going from sitting still to standing still; the point is to become more active generally.
I don’t, personally, have any great metrics on how much I stand, or sit, or move around during the working day. I can make some good approximations though.
My iPhone runs Moves which tracks my activities when I move with the phone. So I know how much time I spend walking, with my iPhone, but that’s not very accurate at work because I tend to leave my iPhone on my desk when I do all of those small movements in the day – get a drink, go to the loo, etc. Assuming that those activities account for less than 30 mins a day I’m still left with about three and a half hours of standing or movement left to do. With that in mind I went back through my activity log in Moves and realised that I have a long way to go – the amount of movement recorded during the working day is tiny. An example of a week’s movement during the working day: Monday – 11 mins; Tuesday – 12 mins; Wednesday – 39 mins (I went for a walk at lunchtime); Thursday – 4 mins; Friday – 10 mins. Oh dear.
I sometimes stand next to my desk while on a call, but it’s not three hours a day!
Most mornings I go for a 40 minute walk before going to work. I could cheat a bit and include that in my target. Then I would be down to needing an extra three hours and a few minutes of standing or moving to get to a total of four hours.
However you look at it, I have a lot of work to do to get close to the two hours, so building to four hours is going to take some effort.
Apart from getting my employer to invest in a stand-sit desk do you have any great activity ideas for me?
One thing I had thought of was taking more calls on my mobile and then walking.