Employees need to spend at least 2 hours of the work day on their feet, an international group of experts advised.
The group based this recommendation on studies showing possible links between illness and large amounts of time sitting. Among the findings of such research is that, in the United Kingdom, sedentary behavior occupies over 70% of the total waking hours of people with a high risk of chronic disease. Another data point used to reach the recommendation was that those with office jobs sit for 65%-75% of their time at work.
“In observational research, daily hours spent being sedentary (sitting), independent of levels of exercise or physical activity, are positively correlated with the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, some cancers and premature mortality,” according to John P. Buckley of University Centre Shrewsbury and the University of Chester, England, and his colleagues. “For example, comprehensive reviews of the data found that compared with those who sit the least, those who sit the most have over twice the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and a 13% and 17% increased risk of cancer incidence and mortality, respectively.”
To potentially reduce the ill effects of prolonged sitting, the group of experts suggested that those with predominantly desk-based jobs adopt the following practices:
• Initially progress towards accumulating at least 2 hours a day of standing and performing light activity – such as walking – during work, and later increase the amount of time on foot to 4 hours a day (prorated to part-time hours).
• Take breaks from both seated- and standing-based work. Thus, sit-stand adjustable desk stations are highly recommended.
• Avoid prolonged static standing postures.
• If adding more standing to the work day causes pain that does not subside after altering posture, walking, or resting, then seek medical advice.
Such guidelines are justified even though longer-term intervention studies that assess standing and light activity in office environments are needed, according to the researchers.
Read the full report in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (2015 June 1 [doi:10.1136/bjsports-2015-094618]).