The arrival of the electronic age has fundamentally changed how much time we spend sitting (also called being sedentary) at home, during travel and at work. This change has been directly linked to an increase in health problems, such as poor nutrition, obesity and insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes. These health problems also increase your risk of developing coronary heart disease. There are many ways in which adults can sit for long periods throughout the day. A typical day might include sitting: to eat breakfast to drive to work at your desk at work to drive home to eat dinner during the evening to do things such as watch television, use a computer and socialise. It’s very easy to sit too much – adults spend more than half of their waking hours sitting. Adults who sit less throughout the day have a lower risk of early death particularly from cardiovascular disease. If an adult meets the Australian Government s physical activity recommendations of 30 minutes or more moderate-intensity physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week, they are classified as physically active. However, adults may increase their health benefits if they also sit less during the day. In fact, new evidence suggests that, no matter what your total sitting time is, regular interruptions from sitting (even as little as standing up) may help to reduce your risk factors for developing coronary heart disease and diabetes. What is recommended for sitting less? It is recommended that adults aim to reduce the total amount of time they sit during the day (their overall sitting time). Studies support the broad recommendation to create more opportunities to limit sitting time and to avoid prolonged periods of sitting. Because watching television, using a computer and playing electronic games usually involve sitting for long periods of time, these recommendations suggest limiting time spent doing these things to less than two hours a day. In fact, studies have shown that adults who watch less than two hours of television a day have a lower risk of early death than adults who watch more than this. How can I reduce my sitting time? There are many simple changes you can make to reduce your sitting time and move more. On the next page is a list of examples you can try at home, in transit and at work. At home
- Get off the couch and walk around the house during commercial breaks
- Do household chores, such as folding clothes, washing dishes or ironing, while watching television.
- Stand to read the morning newspaper
- Wash your car by hand rather than using a drive through car wash
- Move around the house when checking text messages and email on your mobile phone
At work to reduce sitting less
- Stand and take a break from your computer every 30 minutes.
- Take breaks in sitting time in long meetings.
- Stand to greet a visitor to your workspace.
- Use the stairs.
- Stand during phone calls.
- Walk to your colleagues desk instead of phoning or emailing.
- Drink more water going to the water cooler – going to the water cooler and toilet will break up sitting time.
- Move your bin away from your desk so you have to get up to put something in it.
- Eat your lunch away from your desk.
- Stand at the back of the room during presentations.
- Leave your car at home and take public transport so you walk to and from stops/stations.
- Walk or cycle at least part way to your destination.
- Park your car further away from your destination and walk the rest of the way.
- Plan regular breaks during long car trips.
- On public transport, stand and offer your seat to a person who really needs it.
- Get on/off public transport one stop/station earlier