Our thought of this week is inspired by a presentation we heard some days ago at a teaching night in our studio for 20 GPs hosted by one of Sydney’s leading cardiology practices.

Emerging evidence suggests…
Even if a person undertakes the recommended dose of exercise per week, the amount of time spent sitting in the day still substantially affects mortality risk. It’s a phenomenon called ‘sedentary behaviour’, and it’s not the opposite of physical activity like it might sound. It constitutes any waking behaviour characterised by a low expenditure of energy while in a sitting or reclining posture.

Sound familiar?
It includes activities such as sitting on the bus/train to work, doing your work at a desk, eating lunch sitting down, watching TV on the couch, eating dinner at restaurants, and reading in bed. It comprises about 50-70% of your waking hours, or 8-12 hours per day.

The problem is, it’s impacting your health!
To be precise, too much sedentary behaviour is associated with higher mortality rates and with developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic disease. The worst part is that it is an independent risk factor. This means that even if you have a healthy body weight, diet, lifestyle, and you meet the 150-300 mins/week guideline for moderate intensity activity per week, you are still at risk of chronic disease if you engage in prolonged sedentary behaviour.

The science:
Sitting for long periods reduces our use of the large muscles in the back, trunk and legs. These large muscles usually consume a lot of the body’s intake of sugars and fats. Not using these muscles for a prolonged period of time results in higher than normal levels of blood glucose and fats in the body, increasing the risk of a range of health conditions.

Here’s the good news…
You can do one of two things to lower your risk:
1) Reduce your total amount of sedentary behaviour in the day; get an adjustable sit-stand work station or make your own with boxes/books. Here are some examples of both. If a sit-stand workstation is out of the question or not something that appeals to you, at least take a look at these ergonomic chairs from office monster to maintain a good posture despite sitting for many hours a day.
2) Regularly interrupt your sedentary behaviour throughout the day; get up for 2-3 minutes every hour. Suggestions include: standing while you are on the phone, getting up to pour yourself some herbal tea (which will also increase your need for bathroom breaks – double whammy), welcoming your clients at reception and walking them to your office, and downloading an app to remind you to get up regularly.