The dangers of prolonged sitting and how to counteract the risks

Written by: Fit for Work team | Posted in: Blog

dangers of sittingOver the past few years, there have been lots of shocking news stories and headlines about the danger prolonged sitting presents to our health. Experts have stated that ‘sitting is the new smoking’, and while these headlines may seem sensationalist, the truth is that extended periods of sitting can be extremely detrimental to our health.

The average British person spends 8.9 hours a day sitting down. More of us are working in jobs which see us spending our entire work days sitting down – but sedentary behaviour is often linked to obesity, Type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer and even premature death.

But it’s not all bad news. There are ways to counteract the risks posed by prolonged sitting – for example, a new University of Leicester study found that exercising for two and a half hours a week can counteract the effects of sitting down all day.  Below, we’ve put together a few tips for those of you who find yourselves sitting down all day at work. Why not give these a try?

  • Could your business consider installing standing desks in the office? treadmill desks and adjustable height work stations can be expensive, but having a few standing height desks for people to use is a more practical option.
  • Take regular breaks from your desk – ensure you get up and stretch your legs for five minutes every hour. A lot of fitness trackers now have the feature built in to remind you when it’s time to get up and move.
  • Suggest standing or walking meetings to your co-workers – not all meetings need to take place sat around a table. You can stand or walk around with your co-workers as you chat – this can help to keep meetings short too!
  • Make the most of your lunch break – your lunch break is there for a reason; to give you a break from your desk. Use it to get out and about, get some fresh air and stretch your legs.
  • Get creative – there are plenty of opportunities to introduce standing into your work day in small ways. For example, if you know you’re going to be on the phone for a while, why not stand up for the duration of the call?

For more advice on staying healthy at work, you can call the Fit for Work advice line on 0800 032 6235 to speak to a trained advisor (0800 019 2211 for those in Scotland). The Fit for Work Advice Hub also has lots of useful information on health at work topics.

If you’ve been off work for four weeks or more due to illness, you can ask your employer or GP to refer for you to Fit for Work. Visit to find out more.

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