• Public Health England announces new guidance for improving office workers health
  • Recommends a minimum of two hours standing during work shift
  • Sitting down suggested to increase risks of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer
  • Employers introducing new steps to encourage staff to be productive whilst standing

If you are currently sitting down while reading this article, you may wish to contemplate standing up. Did you know that the average office worker sits down for up to 8 hours a day? In fact, if you work in an office, on a day to day basis, standing up is something you should highly consider, and we’ll tell you why. What are the risks of sitting down for prolonged periods?

There is a significant risk caused by prolonged periods which are spent sitting down, not only does it do nothing to help benefit weight loss for individuals on a diet, it has subsequently led an international team of experts from the Public Health England to ask all office-based businesses to make sure that their staff (who are known to spend the majority of their day sat down), to make a conscious effort to spend a minimum of two hours of each day moving or standing. This is to help prevent office workers from running the risks of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.

Office worker sitting on desk smiling

New guidance suggests office workers should stand for 2 hours a day to prevent obesity cancer, heart conditions, and even death.

This important and beneficial workforce guidance was originally published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, and strongly warns that UK inactive behaviour is known to account for up to 60 percent of most office-working-individuals working hours and for 70 percent of those individuals are at high risk of serious health risks such as obesity. In the past decade, research has suggested that the hazards that come with the act of sitting down have been compared to those of smoking, with the same research highlighting that individuals who spend most of their time seated are more than likely to see symptoms of obesity, such as heart conditions and even death.

Professor John Buckley, who is a representative of the Institute of Medicine, said: "There is significant evidence that suggests a first 'behavioural' step in resolving the matter could be simply to get workers standing and moving on their feet more frequently as part of their everyday working lives." He continued: "While it seems that longer term intervention studies are most certainly required, the level of dependable evidence accumulated to this date, and also the public health context of potential rising chronic diseases, suggests that these initial guidelines are justified."

What is the solution? If you are an office worker with a regular day-to-day desk job, you are advised to stand up for a minimum of two hours per day, before progressing up to four hours. It’s also recommended that you make a conscious effort to engage in some form of light activity during working hours. This could be a light walk during your lunch break or even a walk on a treadmill. This may sound bizarre, but many office-based businesses have begun to install treadmill workstations, which is great for weight loss, and help to avoid any possible risks that are associated with sitting down.

Public Health England has also encouraged employers to encourage staff to embrace other healthy aspects of a life, such as quitting smoking and cutting down on alcohol consumption. Nevertheless, the guidelines from Public Health England also mention that all members of staff should also be made aware that prolonged periods of standing can be just as harmful as sitting.