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Better health ‘Back in the Office’

I was delighted to see that BackCare, The Charity for Back and Neck Pain, chose to publicise one of my pet subjects for their Awareness Week this year – the sedentary lifestyle of office workers and the damaging health issues relating to this.

As an Osteopath and being a professional member of BackCare, I am keen to promote habits that reduce the likelihood of people developing a back problem and encourage all my patients to incorporate activity into their daily routine.

Did you know?

  • The average British adult sits for 8.9 hours a day –
    double the safe limit
  • Back pain, diabetes, heart disease and cancer are strongly
    linked to prolonged sitting
  • Even if you are fit and active, if you are sitting for more
    than 8 hours a day, you are still at risk
  • Your metabolism falls dramatically after only 90 minutes of sitting
  • You can burn 50 calories more per hour when standing than sitting
  • In Scandinavia, 80% of workers sit-stand as opposed to 1% in the UK
  • 80% of those who sit-stand at work wish to continue

How to become more active

It is now clear that exercising for an hour, after work, is not the solution to preventing these sedentary related diseases. The belief now is that we have to reduce our sitting to four or five hours a day, especially at work.

In an ideal world, it’s best to use a sit-stand desk, which enables the desk to go up and down. This way you can mix your time, at your workstation, between standing and sitting. However, this can be costly and many employers may not be able/wish to fund this option. So what else can you do?

  • Park your car further away from your office, shops etc
  • Stand on public transport
  • Climb the stairs rather than taking the lift
  • Try standing when taking a phone call
  • Make any sitting time, at work, ‘active sitting’ by using an active chair or the cheaper option of a Sissel Sitfit cushion on your chair – go to www.theodihamclinic.co.uk/sitting
  • Position your printer away from your workstation so that you have to move every time you print
  • Make a point of going and talking to a colleague, rather than sending an email
  • As a rule, try and move every 30 minutes. You could do some simple stretches at your desk (free sheet of ‘Exercises for Office Workers’ available at The Odiham Clinic)

The Sitting Calculator

You could start by visiting www.getbritainstanding.org and use their Sitting Calculator to work out whether you are putting yourself at risk. You may be surprised at just how much time you do spend sitting.

Good luck with adopting Better Health ‘Back in the Office’!