11 steps to reduce health risks associated with sedentary work

By Michael Selinger on July 5th, 2018
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Research has shown that long hours spent sitting in an office chair pose serious health risks to workers, irrespective of what shape they are in, or the amount of physical activity they do outside of work.

A number of health problems that are known to be caused by extended periods of sitting include:

  • hypertension;
  • cardiovascular disease;
  • diabetes;
  • cancer;
  • musculoskeletal disorders;
  • obesity;
  • anxiety;
  • depression; and
  • reduced life expectancy.

While the necessity to conduct desk-based tasks cannot be avoided, employers still have a legal duty to provide employees with a safe and healthy working environment.

If you or your staff are required to sit for long durations, here are 11 steps to help reduce the likelihood of these health conditions occurring.

  1. Take regular breaksTry to walk for a few minutes every hour.
  1. Walk around the office moreInstead of emailing a colleague, go and speak to them directly.
  1. Stretch regularlyStand up and stretch every 30 minutes.
  1. Redesign work tasksAlter how tasks are performed to encourage more movement.
  1. Change how you travel to workPark further away from the entrance, use public transport or even ride a bicycle.
  1. Exercise during lunchbreaksTake this opportunity to walk or do some other exercise when you can.
  1. Have walking meetingsThese are a great way to squeeze in exercise and get a bit of fresh air.
  1. Telephone standing upWalk about while you’re on the phone.
  1. Take the stairsDon’t use the lift if stairs are available.
  1. Organise physical activitiesHold friendly sports matches.
  1. Set up a pedometer challengeSee who can walk the most steps in a week.

More tips to keep employees happy and healthy can be found in chapter H8 Health and Wellbeing Programs in the Health & Safety Handbook.


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