The Australian Department of Health’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines says Australians need to limit their sedentary behaviour to improve their health and well-being. The guidelines state that even if you do more than the recommended amount of physical activity every week, you will still benefit from minimising time spent sitting each day, and from regularly interrupting periods of sitting.
“Break up long periods of sitting as often as possible. 56% of Australian adults are either inactive or have low levels of physical activity – that is more than 9.5 million adults!1”
The act of sitting itself isn’t worse than any other type of daytime physical inactivity, but for most of us, when we’re awake and not moving, we’re sitting; especially in the work place.
Sitting causes the electrical activity in the muscles drops which the leads to a plethora of harmful metabolic effects. Your calorie-burning rate drops immediately to about one per minute. That’s a third of what it would be if you got up and walked. Insulin effectiveness drops within a single day, and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes rises. So does the risk of becoming obese. The enzymes responsible for breaking down lipids and triglycerides plunge, which in turn causes the levels of good cholesterol to fall*.
None of that is good news but how can we fix it?
The solution, they say, isn’t to sit for six hours at work and then head to the gym afterwards, because the negative effects of extended sitting can’t be countered by brief bouts of strenuous exercise. The answer is including pacing, standing and any other form of activity into your normal work day and standing at your desk for part of it is the easiest way of doing so. Here’s a list of some of the benefits scientists have found so far.
- Reduced Risk of Obesity
- Reduced Risk of Type 2 Diabetes and Other Metabolic Problems
- Reduced Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
- Reduced Risk of Cancer
- Lower Long-Term Mortality Risk
Dying from sitting? Really?
It’s not the sitting that kills us but rather the benefits of not sitting which reduces the chance of diabetes, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
A 2010 Australian study found that for each extra hour participants spent sitting daily, their overall risk of dying during the study period (seven years) increased by 11%. A 2012 study found that if the average American reduced his or her sitting time to three hours per day, life expectancy would climb by two years.
Time to stand up!
So now that you’ve decided to sit less, experts recommend splitting your time between standing and sitting because standing all day can lead to back, knee or foot problems – easier said than done in some job roles so we will cover that in another blog post. The easiest ways of accomplishing this is by using a desk that can be raised upwards to stand at. Alternatively you might like to use a tall chair that you can pull up to your standing desk when you do need to sit. You could also have a communal standing desk in a shared workplace that is used by many at different times of the day.
Don’t go from all sitting to all standing in one go. It’s important to ease into it by standing for just a few hours a day at first while your body becomes used to the strain. While standing, move around a bit, by shifting your weight, changing your stance, rocking or pacing.
You also don’t want to be standing on a hard floor. Prolonged standing on hard surfaces causes physical fatigue including pain in your feet, legs, back, neck and shoulders. It can also lead to long-term circulatory problems including varicose veins. That’s where the benefits of a standing desk mat come in.
Standing Desk Mats
These mats whilst stable and supportive, also offer comfort to your legs and the rest of your body. Be aware of what environment your mat will be used in and choose a mat that is best suited accordingly. For example, mats with rounded corners and bevelled edges can prevent people tripping. If you are using mats in a kitchen or other food preparation area, make sure you choose mats that are oil and fat resistant. Also keep in mind the footwear of the people using the mats. For example if it will be someone wearing heels standing on the mat, make sure it’s durable enough to withstand those killer high heels! If it’s going to be used in a wet area, be sure to choose a mat that has been designed to enhance drainage and cleanliness.
At Mat World, we’re so passionate about the benefits of standing mats that we’ve been writing about them (and supplying them) for years. You can find our other tips about standing mats and anti-fatigue mats here.
Browse our Mats and find the best mat to suit your needs here.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2013.
* Research by the Mayo Clinic