01:39 pm, Wednesday 25 April, 2012
Prolonged sitting is a significant risk factor for poor health and early death among workers. Sitting for a long time may increase your chances of dying within three years, even if you are physically active.
A new study involving more than 200,000 participants was conducted in the University of Sydney, revealing that people who sit for 11 hours or more in a day are 40 percent more likely to die within three years. Those who sit for 8 to 11 hours a day are 15 percent more likely to die. This was after taking into account their physical activity, weight and health status.
Dr Hidde van der Ploeg, study lead author and senior research fellow at the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health said that the results of the study have important public health implications.
“That morning walk or trip to the gym is still necessary, but it’s also important to avoid prolonged sitting. Our results suggest the time people spend sitting at home, work and in traffic should be reduced by standing or walking more.”
People who sat for a long time and are inactive had double the risk of dying within three years compared to active people who sat the least. The physically inactive participants who sat the most had nearly one-third higher risk of dying earlier than those who sat the least.
The study is published in Archives of Internal Medicine, and an accompanying editorial in the journal says that the findings were strong enough to support physicians prescribing “reduced daily sitting time” to their patients.
The results of the study are the first landmark findings to be published from the Sax Institute’s 45 and Up Study, which is considered the largest ongoing study of healthy ageing in the Southern Hemisphere.
A major five-year follow-up of 45 and Up Study has just commenced. The follow-up study will ask 265,000 people about their health, lifestyle, and the medications and health services they use. The large scale research is expected to assist the government in facing the challenges of an ageing population.
Stand Up Comcare
According to a news release by Comcare, working adults spend more time at work, which is approximately one third of their day than in any other setting. A Medibank publication entitled Stand Up Australia Sedentary behaviours in workers said that office workers spend an average of 76 percent of their day sitting.
Employers can face significant productivity losses when workers are afflicted with chronic diseases. These include unplanned absences, reduced workplace effectiveness, workers’ compensation costs and negative impacts on work quality and customer service. A fact sheet by Comcare – Benefits of movement – be upstanding offers simple ways that employers can implement changes by introducing regular periods of standing and movement for employees who would otherwise be sitting for most of the working day.
Results from pilot Stand Up Comcare shows that when employers work in collaboration with workers, they can influence health risks of chronic diseases and improve the health and productivity of their organisation. Based on the findings of Stand Up Comcare, a program will be developed for its workers to reduce sitting time at work and promote the benefits of sit-to-stand workstations.