According to research from AXA PPP healthcare, UK workers are spending most of their working day sitting down, the average time being nine hours a day.
A poll of 2000 workers found that 46% sit at work from between 4-6 hours a day and 25% sit for 7-8 hours a day.
29% also sit as part of their daily commute for at least half an hour. 27% sit during travel for between 30 and 60 minutes and 17% sit for commutes that take between one and two hours.
Even after work, people are spending a great deal of their free time sitting down. 50% are seated for between 2-3 hours a day. 31% said they sat for between 4 and 6 hours.
While this might make worrying statistics, most people don’t see it as a problem. 51% said they were “okay” with the amount of time they spend sitting in a day. 33% said they were “happy”.
It’s well known that living a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to various health problems. 73% reported having experienced musculoskeletal problems like back, shoulder and neck pain. This is despite many being satisfied with the amount of time they spent sitting.
Only 36% of workers say they try to avoid sitting for long periods and get up to move around frequently.
Head of musculoskeletal services at AXA PPP healthcare, Jan Vickery said: “We cannot escape from the fact that many of us do much of our day-to-day business on our bottoms.
“To help bring this home, this nine-hour sit-time is tantamount to a UK flight to the Caribbean and, while it’s encouraging that some are taking steps to lower the risks associated with prolonged sitting, it’s a concern that, for others, this seems to be a low priority.
“To make matters worse, sedentary home and leisure patterns may further increase our susceptibility to chronic health problems.”
Looking after the physical health of your workers can help overall mental health and happiness, therefore improving productivity. It can also reduce absences but so far little is done to avoid the sedentary lifestyle of the UK’s workforce either by the employers or the workers themselves.
Vickery says that UK workers need to change their behaviour at work to improve our overall health: “For the sake of our health we need to break the sedentary cycle. Employees – and their employers – should be aware that adopting and developing better habits can make a big difference.
“Making a point of getting up and about every half hour – whether to speak with a colleague or just to stretch your legs – should help you to feel more energised and productive. Perhaps it’s time to give that old exhortation ‘Bottoms up’ a new lease of life to remind ourselves to get up and off our chairs more often.”
What do you think about the amount of time you spend sitting? Are you actively trying to improve this? Let us know your thoughts and tips in the comments.
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An experienced business and finance writer, sometimes moonlighting as a fiction writer and blogger.