Sedentary behaviour is defined as “any waking behaviour characterised by a low energy expenditure (≤1.5 METs) whilst in a sitting, lying or reclining position”. Examples of sedentary behaviour include watching TV, public transport and working on a computer. The average working individual spends 9.5 hours (64% of their waking day) within these sedentary behaviour domains. Furthermore, associations have also found that individuals who sit longer at work also sit for longer in their leisure time and so getting into good habits in the workplace is super important. As high accumulations of sedentary behaviour is associated with the development of numerous chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, minimising sedentary behaviour as much as possible is vital to promote good health.
What is the optimal dose of sedentary behaviour?
Well this really is the million dollar question! There is no hard figure for the optimal time to spend being sedentary; however research has identified a protective effect for developing chronic diseases when undergoing 60-75 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity. Therefore, completing 60-75 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity may mitigate the health risks caused by prolonged sedentary behaviour. This research identified a dose response relationship (meaning that the more time you spend sitting, the higher the risk of developing chronic diseases) and so reducing sitting time as much as possible is suggested for optimal health.
How often should I break up my sedentary behaviour?
The guidelines recommend that we break up our sedentary behaviour at least once every half an hour via activities such as standing, walking or stretching. There are many different strategies that may be implemented within the workplace in order to reduce our sitting time. See below for a few examples:
- Sit to stand desks are an increasingly popular method to reduce sitting time. This equipment enables a computer set-up to be adjusted to either standing or sitting height so that you can continue your computer work whilst avoiding the health harming sedentary behaviours.
- Further strategies include standing meetings to promote the team workforce to reduce their sitting time. This method is possibly one of the more difficult strategies for large companies to accept as a behaviour change strategy but it’s worth a pitch!
- Another small difference that can be made is to vary the locations of the all of the items you may need on a daily basis. For example, are you a frequent printer user? Then perhaps relocate the printer into the next room to encourage you to break up your sitting time as often as possible.