Stand and Deliver

September is the New January
22nd September 2015
The Goose is Getting Fat
24th November 2015
Show all

Stand and Deliver

Stand and Deliver

Your money and your life

Maybe highway men and Adam Ant had something with their rebel call of ‘Stand and Deliver’? Whilst I am not suggesting your don a pair of over knee boots (although I am not stopping you if that is your thing – just watch the heal height) and I am certainly not telling you to go out and hold people up. No. What I am saying is take advice from the words. If you STAND (or be less sedentary) more you are likely to DELIVER more at work, and gain more health benefits. So win-win.

You may think you like your bed/sleep, but I bet there is something you do more than that? And that is spending a large amount of time on your derrière. The frightening thing is, that something you are doing on a daily basis, probably without much thought could have a serious impact on your health (and possibly your wealth). Many adults in the UK spend more than 7 hours a day on their behind, and this typically increases with age to 10+ hours.
Professor Stuart Biddle, who led the national guidelines on reducing sitting, says people who take regular exercise may still be broadly sedentary.
“If someone goes to the gym or walks for 30 to 45 minutes a day, but sits down the rest of the time, then they are still described as having a ‘sedentary lifestyle. All-day movement is now seen as being just as important for the maintenance of good health as traditional exercise.”

As humans, we were not created to sit for such long hours, and until relatively recently it was not an issue due to jobs having more of a manual emphasis. Think back 200-300 years prior to the industrial revolution and the majority of men would have worked on the land, and the women would have had heavy duty work to do at home – both much more physical than today. Things became a little easier for some with the industrial revolution, but still more time on the feet and also less transportation, so more walking. These days it is estimated that half of all jobs in western society are computer-based. Working on a computer all day is very sedentary activity and in addition to that add on time spent commuting, plus time watching TV/cinema/theatre. Plus, research has suggested that remaining seated for too long is bad for your health, regardless of how much exercise you do. Not a pretty picture, and maybe a light is switching onto why there are more people carrying a lot more weight these days.
We are going to look at possible health implications of all this sitting, and then move onto the more positive solution of finding ways to be more active throughout the day.

Issues that may be associated with excessive sitting*

  • Obesity
  • Type ii diabetes
  • Mental health problems
  • Musculoskeletal conditions – such as lower back pain
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Dementia
  • Some type of cancer
  • Even premature death

The first two points are linked to a slowing of metabolism which affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down body fat.
* = Please note that most of the above evidence is based on observational studies, which have only shown an association between sitting and ill health but not a direct cause. It is not yet know if there are different implications for those overweight and obese then to those not. As of yet, there are no specific guidelines on how much is too much.
According to the NHS, one of the largest pieces of research to date on the subject – involving almost 800,000 people – found that, compared with those who sat the least, people who sat the longest had a:

  • 112% increase in risk of diabetes
  • 147% increase in cardiovascular events
  • 90% increase in death caused by cardiovascular events
  • 49% increase in death from any cause

The importance of physical activity for health was identified over 50 years ago. During the 1950s, comparisons of bus drivers with more physically active bus conductors and office-based telephonists with more physically active postmen demonstrated lower rates of coronary heart disease and smaller uniform sizes in the more physically active occupations.

According to a UK Government report, physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality (accounting for 6% of deaths globally). This follows high blood pressure (13%), tobacco use (9%) and high blood glucose (6%). Overweight and obesity are responsible for 5% of global mortality.
In the same report it goes on to explore the cost of inactivity.
The estimated direct cost of physical inactivity to the NHS across the UK is £1.06 billion. This is based upon five conditions specifically linked to inactivity, namely coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, colorectal cancer and breast cancer. This figure represents a conservative estimate, since it excludes the costs of other diseases and health problems, such as osteoporosis and falls, which affect many older people.

Inactivity also creates costs for the wider economy, through sickness absence and through the premature death of productive individuals. It also increases costs for individuals and for their carers. In England, the costs of lost productivity have been estimated at £5.5 billion per year from sickness absence and £1 billion per year from the premature death of people of working age.

I hope what you have read so far, is enough for you to jump to your feet right NOW. Go on then, stand up, have a walk round for a few minutes then come back and read the rest of the article on what you can do to make a difference.

Welcome back…… there, now wasn’t it good to move away from the screen? That is the first thing you can add to your todo list. It is recommended you take a break every 30 minutes, but tell your employers not to fear because infact it can help your productivity and reduce your chance of being off sick.
Here are some other small but great changes to make…
Tips to become more active:

  • stand on the train or bus
  • get off a stop earlier
  • park at the other side of the car park
  • cycle to work
  • take the stairs and walk up escalators
  • set a reminder to get up every 30 minutes (there are apps that can time for you – the Pomodoro technique recommends 25minutes block of work, followed by a 5 min break, with a longer break after every four 25 min chunks)
  • in the little breaks, stretch, reset posture, walk round, do some squats – anything….. just move
  • alternate working while seated with standing. Standing desks are now widly avaialbe. Breakfast bars or boxes, will sometimes do the same job (please note the same eugonomics apply – keyboard at elbow height and eyeline towards the top of the screen)
  • stand or walk around while on the phone
  • take a walk break every time you take a coffee or tea break
  • walk to a colleagues desk instead of emailing or calling
  • introduce, stair, steps and other challenges at work or amongst friends
  • Be active at lunch time
  • have walking or standing meetings
  • go to the printer each time you print rather than saving jobs up
  • set up an exercise club at work
  • get a foot cycle under the desk
  • Sit on a gym ball instead of chair
  • Clench and release glutes when driving
  • Draw abdominals in 30% throughout the day

  • swap some TV time for more active tasks or hobbies
  • stop using the remote control

For most people, the easiest and most acceptable forms of physical activity are those that can be incorporated into everyday life. Examples include walking or cycling instead of travelling by car, bus or train. However, a larger quantity of activity at higher intensity (such as playing sport) can bring further benefits, and this might be the aspiration for many people. Guidelines for more formal exercise for adults (19–64 years) are;

  1. Adults should aim to be active daily. Over a week, activity should add up to at least 150 minutes (2½ hours) of moderate intensity activity in bouts of 10 minutes or more – one way to approach this is to do 30 minutes on at least 5 days a week.
  2. Alternatively, comparable benefits can be achieved through 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity spread across the week or a combination of moderate and vigorous intensity activity.
  3. Adults should also undertake physical activity to improve muscle strength on at least two days a week.
  4. All adults should minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary (sitting) for extended periods.

This article has just touched on the tip of the iceberg. If you want to find out more how to up yours or your workforce activity and decrease days taken as sick please get in touch to find out the Health & Wellbeing Sessions I work with workplaces. / 07984 159824
Move over sugar, sitting – the new enemy is here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *