Sedentary work

Sedentary behaviour, such as prolonged sitting, presents significant health risks.

Australian workers spend approximately 76 percent of their time at work sitting, which equates to about five hours per day. A quarter of the population report that they sit for more than eight hours per day. (Ref from SafeWork?) Office and administrative workers have a higher risk of excessive sedentary work.

Sedentary work can increase the risk of:

  • cardiovascular disease
  • some cancers
  • type II diabetes
  • musculoskeletal disorders.

When sitting for long periods, workers report feeling tired, less productive and unhealthy.

Even if you exercise outside of work, prolonged sitting increases the risk of negative effects on your health.

Control measures

Things you can do to promote movement at work include:

  • review your job and task design to minimise sitting time
  • take regular breaks – stand up and move every 30 minutes
  • vary your work so your posture changes and you use different muscles
  • introduce height adjustable, sit-stand desks
  • promote a ‘standing-friendly culture’ such as a standing reading area or standing in meetings
  • organise active meetings so you can ‘walk and talk’
  • take your lunch break away from your desk
  • move rubbish bins away from desks so you are forced to walk to use them.

Being physically active

Building more activity into your day can make a big difference to your health. This includes:

  • walking to deliver a message to colleagues rather than emailing
  • standing to read documents
  • using the stairs instead of the lift
  • exercising in your lunch break
  • active commuting by walking or cycling to work or to public transport and leaving the car at home
  • standing on public transport and jumping off one stop earlier to walk the rest of the way
  • parking further away from your destination and walking.

More information

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