It has been said that sitting is the new smoking, with a study conducted by AXA PPP healthcare illustrating that British office staff who sit for most of their working day are racking up the hours and unwittingly embracing an unhealthy sedentary lifestyle.
The study illustrated that office workers sit for an average of nine hours a day, with many stretching their legs only to get up to go to the bathroom or make another cup of tea.
The AXA PPP study revealed that one in four – 25% – of the 2,000 workers questioned notch up nine hours of sitting time daily.
In addition to investigating office habits, the study examined commuting options and found that many of those who spent hours sitting at work then made their way to public transport, sitting down for the duration of the journey home.
17 % of those surveyed said that their commute took between one and two hours, adding to the time they were seated daily.
A deep-seated issue
It is not only the issue of sitting at work that the study highlighted. In addition to work and commuting time, 50% of the participants spent at least two to three hours of their daily leisure time seated; for almost 31%, the figure was even higher at four to six hours.
Many people admitted that they would arrive home from work and simply settle down on the couch, content to while away the evening in front of the TV after spending the whole day seated behind a desk.
Perhaps the most worrying part of this study was that the participants generally did not find anything wrong with their habits, with 51% saying that they were happy with the amount of time they spent seated. This was despite more than 33% admitting to expecting musculoskeletal issues such as neck, back and shoulder pain.
Highlighting the health angle
What many fail to realise is that sitting for so long re-enforces a sedentary lifestyle that can lead to all kinds of other health problem.
Musculoskeletal issues are only scratching the surface – sitting for so long can lead to type two diabetes, heart disease, and even deep vein thrombosis.
Although many office workers were somewhat aware of the risks of sitting for too long, they did little to combat the negative health effects. Just 36% said that they tried to do something about the situation and walk around or stretch ever hour or so.
The head of musculoskeletal service for AXA PPP healthcare commented on the study, saying that although it was hard to escape the fact that so many people need to spend all day behind a desk, it was essential that the negatives of a sedentary lifestyle were exposed, understood and acted upon.
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