With over three out of five of us spending three or more hours in a sedentary position on weekdays, the Public Health Agency (PHA) is encouraging everyone to get more active during the day at work. Too much time sitting can be bad for your health and many of us spend a lot of our work hours sitting at a desk.
Colette Brolly, the PHA lead on Physical Activity, said: “With a few simple steps, it’s quite easy to build moderate activity into your work day while still getting on with your job.
“It’s good to take a whole-day approach to being active as this will make it easier to hit the key goals for physical activity and reduce the amount of time you spend being sedentary. This includes thinking about the small things you can do, built around and into your work schedule.”
With 69% of men and 57% of women now overweight or obese, it is now more important than ever that we look at how we can adapt our behaviours to make healthier, more sustainable choices.
“Being more physically active and reaching the Chief Medical Officer’s recommended target of a minimum 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week can help you manage your weight, reduce your risk of developing some cancers, and reduce anxiety and stress.
“150 minutes can sound daunting, but break it down in to smaller chunks. 30 minutes on at least five days is a good approach, and you can break that down further into 10-minute bouts of moderate activity that will fit in well with a busy working schedule. Basically, move more and move more often!”
Here are some ideas for getting up out of your seat:
- On the way to work, try walking or cycling for part or all of the journey. If you have to drive or take the bus, park the car a little further away from the office and walk the rest of the way. Hop off the bus a stop or two earlier and walk the rest of the way.
- When you get to work, try taking the stairs instead of the lift to get to the office.
- During the day, if you have to ask someone in the office something, walk to their desk rather than sending an email.
- At lunch, go for a walk rather than sitting at your desk. A 10 minute brisk walk adds to your recommended physical activity target of 30 minutes a day on at least five days per week.
- Standing up uses more muscles than sitting. You could stand each time you take a phone call.
- Stretch. Whether sitting or standing you can stretch at your desk to try to stop you feeling ‘stiff’ from sitting throughout the day.
- Walk and talk. If you have to talk to a colleague, try a walking meeting. It will keep you on your feet which will burn calories and be something different to talking around a table.
- Your organisation may already have some work-based physical activity programmes, so ask around and see if there are any to take part in and if not, offer to set one up and challenge your team or department to take part in initiatives such as 10,000 steps walking programme.
Moderate activity can include a brisk walk or riding a bike and don’t forget that any activity is better than none.
Notes to the editor
- The recommended guidelines on physical activity are that adults should aim to be active every day and achieve at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity over a week. One way of achieving this is getting 30 minutes of activity at least five times per week.
- Over two-fifths (45%) of respondents to the Northern Ireland Health Survey 2012/13 aged 19 and over, reported having over four hours of sedentary time per day on weekdays, while 17% were sedentary for between three and four hours.
- Respondents in the obese BMI category tended to have more sedentary time than those in the normal weight/underweight BMI category. Almost half of obese respondents (49%) reported being sedentary for more than four hours per day on weekdays which compares with 37% of respondents in the normal weight/underweight category. Similarly on weekend days a higher proportion of obese respondents (61%) than normal weight / underweight (48%) were sedentary for at least four hours.
- A quarter of adults (25%) were obese with a further two-fifths (37%) classified as overweight. Overall two-fifths of adults were either normal or underweight (38%). Males (69%) were more likely than females (57%) to be overweight or obese.
- 10,000 steps challenge – research has shown that walking 10,000 steps a day can improve your health. The 10,000 step challenge is all about encouraging work colleagues to compete to see who can reach the 10,000 step target each day using pedometers and keeping a leader board of participants. More info can be found on http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/loseweight/Pages/10000stepschallenge.aspx