We all know that regular exercise is an important part of staying healthy, but studies show that it might not be enough to stave off many health issues if you spend most of your day sitting.

Research findings published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine reveal that spending too much time sitting down means a greater risk of premature death. While the results echo previous study findings, this new probe focused on women aged 50-79 years.

Harvard Women’s Health Watch executive editor, Stephanie Watson, observed that the more hours women spent sitting at work, driving or on the sofa watching TV, the greater their odds of dying early from all causes, including heart disease and cancer.

“And here’s the kicker; even women who exercised regularly risked shortening their lifespan if most of their daily hours were sedentary ones,” she wrote in the Harvard Health Blog.

Study co-author, Dr JoAnn Manson, explained that older women spending too much time sitting, but also doing moderate to vigorous exercise, still faced a higher risk of an earlier death.

Closer to home, a study conducted by Medibank Private demonstrates that prolonged sitting is just as much an issue in Australia as in the United States. Conducted on 131 members of Medibank’s staff, they found that a startling 77 per cent of time spent at work is sedentary.

Work isn’t the only factor at play, either, with the majority (62 per cent) of a non-work day also spent sedentary.

Clearly the study results sound warning bells, not just for mature women, but for people with deskbound jobs who spend too much leisure time in couch potato mode.

Here are some simple steps you can take to avoid sedentary behaviour at work:

  • Walk to colleagues to talk instead of phoning or emailing.
  • Take a short walk around the office every hour.
  • Walk around the neighbourhood at lunch instead of eating at your desk.
  • Use a bathroom/printer/kitchen/bin that is further away, forcing you to walk more.
  • Use the stairs instead of a lift.
  • Walk or ride to work if possible, or stand up on public transport.
  • Park further away from work than necessary.

For other tips on staying healthy at work visit the NSW Government’s Get Healthy at Work website.

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