Let’s stand up more this Friday… and beyond

Friday 28th April 2017 is “on your feet Britain” organised by GetBritainStanding.org and Active Working.

The purpose of such of an event is to highlight and raise awareness for the importance of reducing daily sedentary behaviour by standing more. Sedentary behaviours are the things we do such as sitting and lying down. More and more research is telling us that spending large amounts of time in these behaviours is having drastic effects upon our physical health, so much so that it has been suggested sitting is the new smoking https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/the-dangers-of-sitting .

Now, for myself, I am uncomfortable with the idea that sitting down for too long is comparable to smoking –  the behaviours are very different. Smoking one cigarette is bad for human health, one period of sitting down is not. A packet of cigarettes is a product which is purchased from a shop, sitting down is a functional physical human behaviour.  Sitting down to read a good book, enjoying a meal with the family around a table discussing the day’s events, sitting down catching up on the news of the day, or switching on the TV so that young children are preoccupied for half an hour while parents have the time to clean up or have half an hour to themselves are not bad things and should not be frowned upon. But I do understand why such a comparison is made between smoking and sitting; it dramatically highlights to individuals the negative aspects of sitting and why they should reduce the amount they sit. GetBritianStanding.org discusses the evidence of the negative consequences of large amounts of sedentary behaviour.

To be clear sitting down is not bad for health, prolonged uninterrupted sitting can be. And this is true whether you have gone for a 60-minute run during the day, or a child has been very active during play time at school.  But reducing the amount we all sit is difficult, and swapping the time spent sitting, with time spent being physically active, is difficult for many in an ever-expanding working day. The UK, like most developed societies, promotes sitting down for much of the day. Aspects of daily life such as cars, offices, meeting rooms, class rooms, and living rooms, are situations where we would all automatically take a seat. I myself have an office based job and it is saddening when I spend much of my day writing and conducting research on sedentary behaviour while being sedentary. But the solution can be very simple, swaping time spent sitting, lying down, reclining for time spent standing.

Standing more every day will:

  • Burn more calories and increases metabolism
  • Tones muscles
  • Improve posture
  • Increase blood flow
  • Reduce risks for Type II diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, which are associated with sitting for long periods of time every day.

Here at Born in Bradford we know from some of our previous work that Bradford children aged 9-10 years of age spend 70% of their day being sedentary. We are very interested in looking for ways to increase standing for Bradford children. We are currently investigating the use of sit-stand adjustable desks within Bradford primary schools to reduce the amount of time spent sitting in classrooms. We have also started collecting data from our families visiting the BiB bus which includes sedentary behaviour. This will allow us to further explore and investigate the associations between sedentary behaviour and the health of families.

So  for “on your feet Britain” why don’t you try and reduce the amount of time you sit. Why not try standing up during a meeting, or even go for a walking meeting. Try standing up for 10 minutes every hour. Ask yourself: do you need to sit while making a phone call? Would it be easier to get up and go and speak to a colleague rather then send an e-mail? Leave a post it note by your computer which states “STAND UP MORE!”.  As for children, why not ask your child to use the kitchen work top to stand and complete homework rather than sitting down at a traditional desk; maybe enforce a no-TV time during the evening. Here at BiB we are lucky enough to have sit-stand adjustable desks, why not ask your employer and child’s school regarding sit-stand desks?

To conclude, much of what we do every day does not need to be done sitting down, and we can improve our own and our children’s health by spending less time being sedentary. If you enjoyed this blog why not have a look on http://www.getbritainstanding.org/  and http://onyourfeetday.com/britain; get involved with the event , and use ‘on your feet Britain’ to think of what changes you can make for yourself and your family in your everyday lives.

Daniel Bingham- Born in Bradford Research Fellow

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