Advice to sit up and take notice

There are concerns about the health effects of staying seated.
There are concerns about the health effects of staying seated.

But according to a Curtin University professor it only takes about half an hour of continuous sitting before the serious damage can start.

Physiotherapy professional Leon Straker said the dangers of sitting for long periods went well beyond back pain and could include an earlier death.

“Sitting looks innocuous but it’s really crept up in a stealth way,” he said.

“There’s good evidence that says if you spend more than 20-30 minutes sitting down things start to change in the sugars and fats in your body, which can then lead to things like heart disease, diabetes and mental health issues.”

Mr Straker labelled the average office worker as the worst offender with the highest risk.

“We recommend people change their posture every half hour, but that can be quite hard for lots of office workers,” he said.

“Human bodies are designed for sporadic movement, but now that computers are so powerful there’s no real need to get up.”

Mr Straker said any activity at work was good, but it would be most sustainable if it ensured productivity was not compromised.

“It works quite well to think about your day, and plan for things that will force you to get up,” he said.

“I make sure I have to walk places, like if I had a meeting with someone we would have a walking meeting as opposed to sitting in a boardroom.

“Or some people have egg timers that go off at intervals, and encourage them to stand up.”