A sedentary lifestyle is not simply the absence of exercise. Sedentary time covers any part of the day where we are sitting or lying, including working time spent at a desk, driving or on public transport. There is a link between spending extended periods of time sitting and higher rates of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other health conditions. It is important to break up time being sedentary with frequent breaks and become more active throughout the day. Sitting, after all, a learnt behaviour and a habit we can break.
Physical activity covers any bodily movement produced by our muscles that requires energy expenditure which is enough to raise our heart rate and get us slightly out of breath.1 It is possible to meet the weekly physical activity guidelines (150 minutes of moderate intensity activity) while still leading a very sedentary lifestyle. For example, someone might work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, at a desk-based job, then at the weekend spend half an hour swimming on Saturday and 2 hours cycling on Sunday. Technically they are reaching activity recommendations and gaining some health benefits, but are spending most of the week in a sedentary state.
Sedentary time at work has been referred to as the most underrated risk to health, with an increasing number of workplaces opting to address this in their health and wellbeing plans.
If you and your team are stuck in that sedentary rut, all is not lost! There are adjustments we can make to our day-to-day lives to not only improve our physical health, but also our mental health and wellbeing. Increasing your movement can have a positive impact on productivity, energy levels, efficiency and stress levels.
New guidance from public health England suggests sedentary behaviour can be tackled by encouraging the following:
It is also recommended that you get up every hour and walk around for at least two minutes. But what other ways could you make movement more of a feature in yours and your team’s day? Read on to find our top tips to minimise sedentary behaviour and increase movement…
Sedentary time at work can increase health risks. Think about ways you can encourage your team to change their sedentary habits and lead by example!
1 Definition of activity: World Health Organisation