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News

Survey: Concerned office staff suggest ways to stay active at work

Back complaints were the most common worry, then neck aches and loss of muscle tone
– Teneale McGuckin, lecturer, James Cook University

Nearly three-quarters of office workers believe there is a negative relationship between sitting down all day at work and their health, according to a new study.

Sports scientists from James Cook University (JCU) in Queensland, Australia, surveyed 140 office workers, with many respondents saying buy-in from bosses is crucial to help solve the problem.

Teneale McGuckin, a lecturer in Sport and Exercise Science at JCU, asked each worker what they thought was the relationship between sitting time and health.

“One hundred people said that more sitting time worsened their health,” she said. “Back complaints were the most common worry, then neck aches and loss of muscle tone.

"People also talked about weight gain and that sitting down all day reduced their motivation."

McGuckin said science supported the view that sitting is bad for you. "Increased sitting time has been associated with an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease and reduced life expectancy.

“Links to weight gain, some cancers, type 2 diabetes and breathing difficulties, have also been identified."

The office workers were also asked what they thought could be done about the problem. Suggestions included a variety of behaviour change strategies, such as alarms to prompt standing, computer software which freezes the computer for a selected period of time, standing in meetings or in the lunchroom, and using standing desks.

"Whatever the strategy used, the focus groups said it needed to include education on the benefits and it needed buy-in from management, McGuckin added.

“People said the breaks have to be seen as a normal activity and there shouldn't be criticism if they are away from their desks."

The findings of the study were published in the journal Perspectives in Public Health.

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