“When I wake up in the morning I have a quick breakfast then straight in the car for the long drive to work through traffic. If I leave at 630 it takes me a full hour but if I wait until 715 I can make it in 40 minutes.

I get into the office and get straight down to work, check some emails and correspondence first. I generally have a 5 minute coffee break about 1030 then back to the desk. Sometimes I feel I can’t get away from my desk all day!

Normally I am under the pump and eat lunch at my desk. I finish work about 530 and try to push through the traffic and my drive home takes about an hour. Then I have a quick shower, watch a couple of hours of TV and then go to bed by 930 so I can do it all again tomorrow.”

This sounds like the daily routine of the millions of office based workers throughout Australia. The majority of us drive to work, eat lunch at our desk, and work far more than an 8 hour day.

If this sounds like you there is a chance you have just sat for a total of 13 hours in the day- 1.5 hours commuting, 9.5 hours at work and then 2 hours in the evening.

A recently commissioned study by Dr Martin Mackey at the University of Sydney Physiotherapy Department has deemed that it is unhealthy to sit for any more than 8 hours a day. If you sit for more than 8 hours a day it virtually doubles your risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes and becoming obese.

So many of us working the daily grind in sedentary, office based environments are ticking time bombs, waiting for our health to explode at any minute.

Here is a common objection:

“But I go to the gym and run and lift heavy weights three times a week. I am not overweight, I am healthy and fit, my blood pressure and cholesterol are fine. I just get a bit tired towards the end of the day and I don’t sleep too well- sometimes I wake up tired”

More research presented by Dr Mackey and his team actually shows that an hour of vigorous exercise a day does not reduce the above risk factors of heart attack, stroke and diabetes.

But how can I reduce the number of hours I sit for when I am expected to do 10 hour days and the work just keeps on piling up? All of my colleagues have lunch at their desk and I feel guilty if I get out of the office- what if someone sees me- they will think I am a slacker! I don’t have enough time to exercise or even cook a decent meal when I get home. Life is just so busy and I know I am not as healthy as I should be but I’m just not sure what I can do about it”

Here is where we can help.

Over the coming weeks and months I will be writing more blogs and articles about sitting and inactivity at work, and what we can actually do about it to improve the lives of sedentary workers and improve the morale and productivity of offices all over Australia.

Stay tuned for more thought provoking and interesting info regarding different aspects of sitting at work. There is already great groundswell within the business community to address this important issue as we as a society are starting to realise the many negative impacts of prolonged sitting in the workplace.

Nick Schuster

Scarborough Physiotherapy