Studies have found that sitting for too long can play a direct role in an early death – #yikes. Don’t worry too much, though. After reading the results of these studies, we quite literally got off our bums and sought out an expert who could tell us how to reverse this trend, stat. Introducing APA Physiotherapist and National Chair of the APA Occupational Health Physiotherapist Group, David Hall, expert on all things sitting.

So, what does too much sitting mean for our health? David gives us the rundown.

A shorter and less healthy life

“Sitting is being described as the new smoking because the effects on our cardiovascular system are very similar. Sitting is also associated with higher rates of bowel cancer and type 2 diabetes,” says David. 

More aches and pains

“Many have learned this the hard way. Office workers are particularly at risk of neck aches and associated headaches if they don’t consider their sitting postures and forget to get up from sitting,” David tells us.

Slouched posture

“You don’t need research for this one. Look in the mirror next time you are texting on your mobile or on your lap top. We are creating a generation of slouched people who are posturally illiterate – the ‘slouching generation’,” David says.

Reduced productivity

“Office workers who adopt standing more at work often delight in the increased productivity and reduced fatigue that results from this, particularly in the afternoon,” says David.

How can we break up the daily grind, you ask? Here are David’s top tips for minimizing the health risks associated with sitting:

  1. Refresh your thinking about your “desk job” – desk jobs do not have to be sitting jobs
  2. Be brave enough to exercise in the office – at the risk of looking silly you can prevent pain and feel more energetic
  3. Create new healthy habits – walking messages to colleagues, drinking more water, having standing meetings
  4. Build a support network – get your colleagues involved in your efforts to move and exercise more. Ensure you have a voice in the working community you are part of and are part of a “Speak up Culture” that talks about health and wellbeing and acts on the needs of the workers.
  5. If you see a better and safer way to do something – speak up, and keep speaking up until the situation is resolved.

“Life is too short to come home from a day at work feeling deflated and/or in pain. We are happier and healthier when we are engaged in good work that makes us feel valued and like we are making a difference,” says David.

Struggling from work-related pain or injury? Physiotherapists can assist in fast and effective recovery from injury, or screen for risks of injury and provide advice that will helps prevent it like, lifestyle and exercise advice. Occupational Health Physiotherapists are helpful in workplaces to provide services that help prevent injuries such as ergonomic desk assessments, health and wellbeing seminars and training on how to conduct manual tasks safely.