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What office workers say about sitting and their health?

Young businesswoman with neck pain sitting at office desk


The human body is not designed to lead a sedentary lifestyle. In fact with our lifestyle is increasingly becoming more deskbound, and our body is not coping very well with it.

Many previous studies have shown us that increased amount of sitting and inactivity leads to various problems with our musculoskeletal system and has a huge effect on our cardiovascular health among other things like weight gain, anxiety, cancer, type 2 diabetes and breathing difficulties.

An increased amount of sitting is also known to shorten people’s lives and leading to early death.

The focus group suggested that there also needed to be educated on the benefits and the help of supportive and knowledgeable managers to promote such intervention methods.

Since most of our day is spent at work, we are used to sitting for long periods of hours. But what is this doing to our health and more importantly what do office workers think about their sedentary behaviour?

Researchers from James Cook University surveyed 140 office workers on their perception of the impact caused on their health due to sitting time.

Following the survey, 12 employees also participated in a focus group to identify potential interventions for sedentary behaviour.

88 per cent of the participants agreed that there was a relationship between sitting time and their health. The most common complaint was of back pains, followed by neck aches and loss of muscle time.

Weight gain was also talked about and that sitting all day reduced their motivation.

On asking what behaviour change strategies could be introduced the participant’s suggestions included standing in meetings or in the lunchroom, standing desks, computer software that freezes the screen after a particular time and alarms or prompts for standing.

The focus group suggested that there also needed to be educated on the benefits and the help of supportive and knowledgeable managers to promote such intervention methods.

The participants said that taking breaks should be a normal part of their activity and that they shouldn’t be criticised for it.

The focus group also suggested that these strategies should be tailored for each individual and that people should be given an opportunity for their input rather than being told what to do as then the strategies are more likely to work.

It’s vital for office workers to be in charge of their own health especially when they are sitting for long hours which are detrimental to their health. By introducing individually suited change behaviour strategies, employers can help support their staff to solve the problems associated with sitting time and health.

Source: Perspectives in Public Health


Meena Azzollini

Meena is passionate about holistic wellbeing, alternative healing, health and personal power and uses words to craft engaging feature articles to convey her knowledge and passion. She is a freelance writer and content creator from Adelaide, Australia, who draws inspiration from family, travel and her love for books and reading.

A yoga practitioner and a strong believer in positive thinking, Meena is also a mum to a very active young boy. In her spare time, she loves to read and whip up delicious meals. She also loves the smell of freshly made coffee and can’t ever resist a cheesecake. And she gets tickled pink by anything funny!