Friday 30 September 2016

Sitting all day is as deadly as smoking, office staff warned

Published 19/08/2015 | 02:30

'Researchers at Queen's University Belfast believe that sitting for long periods is linked
to obesity, diabetes and early mortality' (picture posed)
'Researchers at Queen's University Belfast believe that sitting for long periods is linked to obesity, diabetes and early mortality' (picture posed)

Elderly people and office staff are risking their long-term health by sitting down for extended periods.

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Prolonged sitting is just as bad for your health as smoking and can bring on health issues such as heart disease and cancer.

Researchers at Queen's University Belfast believe that sitting for long periods is linked to obesity, diabetes and early mortality.

They said that it poses as big a threat to public health as smoking.

Not using your legs for prolonged periods creates a build up of plaques, fats and cholesterols in arteries.

Dr Mark Tully from the UK Clinical Research Collaboration Centre of Excellence for Public Health at Queen's University Belfast said that this is very common in office workers and elderly people.

"On average, people spend more than nine hours, or up to 80pc of their waking day, sitting down," he said.

"Public health scientists have recognised the need to develop effective interventions to address the high levels of inactivity across ages, with sitting regarded as 'the new smoking'," he added.

The news comes as the Irish Independent has learned that the HSE considered rolling out sit-stand desks across their work force to combat illnesses in staff.

A source within the organisation said that he believes that it would take too long to introduce such a scheme.

A HSE spokesperson confirmed that there are no plans to roll out the desks but they were considered.

"The HSE is currently developing a staff health and wellbeing strategy which will include a commitment to supporting staff to become healthier in the workplace and will include actions around encouraging physical activity," she said.

"We will be advised by our experts on this and will examine the benefits of sit-stand desks," she added.

"The subject of sit-stand desks has come up for discussion at Occupational Health Advisory Group meetings but there are no plans to introduce these desks across the health service at this time."

The desks are already common in Scandinavia, where 90pc of office staff have the option of using a standing desk.

The Health and Safety Authority outlined that staying in one position for too long in work can affect posture and lead to injuries.

"Stresses and strains arising from adopting awkward or static postures when treating patients can also give rise to musculoskeletal disorders," said a spokesperson.

"Apart from legal responsibilities, there are good business reasons for an organisation to address these issues in their workplace," he added.

Dr Tully said he uses an innovative treadmill desk in work everyday to boost activity.

"If we are sitting all day long, we are not using the muscles in our legs," he said.

"We still have this culture of sitting that we have to overcome," he added.

"We are not built to spend the day sitting down and really should be up and about more often."

Irish Independent

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