Excessive sitting, set at nine hours a day, is set to become a serious lethal activity after the findings of recent studies. Australian employers could be breaching workplace health and safety laws due to allowing “too much sitting” by workers, according to a paper released yesterday from researchers at Curtin University.
The paper found that an unbelievable 75% of office workdays were spent sitting, including multiple unbroken periods of at least 30 minutes. Excessive “occupational sitting” can have serious health effects including heart disease, obesity, cancer and diabetes and is estimated to account for 5.9% of premature deaths.
The researchers said workplace environments in contemporary offices carried a “high likelihood of excessive sitting” and the evidence of the substantial harm it carried was now well known.
The paper says simple changes, including “sit-stand work stations”, could be introduced to reduce sedentary behaviour. “Some risk-reduction strategies, such as standing meetings, are costless,” the researchers found.
National Heart Foundation WA cardiovascular health director Trevor Shilton said, standing was better than sitting from a health perspective and walking was better than standing. “It’s all about movement,” he continues.
“Our chair might be our new risk factor, “says Shilton. While currently it is unlikely employers would face legal action for overseeing excessive sitting, he noted smoke-free workplaces and sunscreen had become standard.
Another study, published in 2012 in the journal Circulation, looked at 8800 Australians over several years and found those who sat and watched more television were associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death, and suggested chronic disease prevention strategies could focus on reducing sitting time.
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