A sitting person's guide to standing up
Published: 10th Jul 2012 13:52:22
Office workers, bankers, IT experts and couch potatoes beware. Doctors are warning sitting down for too long can shorten lives. So how can the chair be countered?
Ever since the advent of the service industry, the nation has fallen in love with the swivel chair.
Study after study shows the UK is getting more sedentary in its working and home life.
Yet the dangers of sitting down for prolonged periods have also been well documented, with scientists saying there is a higher risk of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Now, in a report for the online journal BMJ Open, scientists say limiting the time we spend sitting to just three hours a day could add an extra two years to our life expectancy. Cutting daily TV viewing down to two hours could add on 1.4 years.
So how can those that live a sedentary lifestyle slip the shackle of the swivel chair and snatch some extra time standing up?
It's not just sitting down. Adopting any one posture for a long time is bad, says Jane White from the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).
"Some of the Met police recently collapsed at a passing out ceremony from standing up for too long. It's being static that's the health issue - it slows down the circulatory system, blood, oxygen and vital nutrients," she says.
White notes that 7.6m working days are lost a year as result of musculoskeletal disorders in the UK.
With desk-based office jobs on the rise, IOSH "encourages more movements, more breaks, and taking time to consider health and wellbeing", she says.
IOSH has walking lunch groups and yoga classes.
But White says other companies are more inventive.
"In one, people are encouraged to stand when they take a phone call - apparently it was sold on the idea it burnt more calories. Another company has a no internal email day, so people have to leave their desks to deliver messages within the organisation.
"We've been to another company with a boardroom with no table and chairs, so meetings don't take so long. And we've had experience of offices having pedometers under desks - the British Heart Foundation has helped encourage that."
Priya Dasoju, a professional adviser and chartered physiotherapist, suggests simple things like setting reminders on an Outlook calendar to move every 20 minutes, or using a printer further away.
Other easy-to-implement actions are using stairs rather than lifts, offering to do the tea round and drinking more water and speaking to people in person. Even stretches at the desk help.
While getting off the train one stop earlier, parking a little further afield, or choosing to stand up rather than sit down on a commute is all time well spent, she says.
More strategic measures could include walking meetings, or limiting meetings to 10 minute periods, Dasoju says.
In an ideal world, the physiotherapist advocates tailor-made work stations, but they would cost money.
There should be a cultural shift, she says.
"It's not like bosses say, 'make sure you keep moving to look after your back', it is not really thought about. It is becoming more acceptable to go to the gym at lunch, but it needs to get to the point that it is frowned upon when people have lunch at their desks.
"There need to be exercise schemes, it needs to be part of inductions, rather than an aside. It has happened to a degree with flights which have got exercises on screens to prevent DVT," she says.
Dr Sarah Jarvis, a presenter on the BBC's One Show, says simple things like not storing items at the bottom of staircases - but taking items upstairs whenever they need to be moved - can make a big difference. As can parking far from the supermarket entrance.
"It's about setting targets - for example if an errand is less than half a mile away, walk.
"If people burn, say, an extra 100 calories over the course of a day by doing small things, that's a pound of weight in just over a month, which is not far away from a stone a year. Thinking of it like that can have an impact," she says.
White says she also has some personal tips on how to keep active in front of the screen in the - somewhat unhelpfully named - sitting room.
"Personally I enjoy Wii or Xbox with the kids - it can be dancing to Michael Jackson.
"I know my other half likes having a spinning bike in the shed - so he can escape the kids watching EastEnders. Ultimately, it's all about encouraging exercise and bringing it into mundane tasks at home," she says.
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Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. A sitting person's guide to standing up [Online] (Updated 10th Jul 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1439717/A-sitting-persons-guide-to-standing-up [Accessed 30th Aug 2014]
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With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com