Workers must be on their feet for a minimum of two hours daily during office hours to avoid health risks, the first-ever British guidelines by Public Health England and a non-profit organization Active Working CIC has claimed. Eventually, the daily quota should be increased to four hours a day, breaking up prolonged periods of sitting with the use of sit-stand desks, standing-based work and regular walkabouts, it added.
"For those working in offices, 65-75% of their working hours are spent sitting, of which more than 50% is accumulated in prolonged periods of sustained sitting," the authors said.
The first ’behavioral’ step could be simply to get people standing and moving more frequently as part of their working day. This is likely to be more achievable than targeted exercise. They recommend two hours daily of standing and light activity (light walking) during working hours. Regularly break up seated-based work with standing-based work, with the use of adjustable sit-stand desks/work stations. Alter your posture to alleviate possible muscle pain and fatigue as part of the adaptive process.
"Employers should also warn their staff about the potential dangers of too much time spent sitting down either at work or at home," the authors said.
Some companies have already invested time and money creating a more active working environment for their staff, but those that have not should evaluate how best to achieve the recommendations. This could include deciding when and how staff takes breaks which involve standing and movement.
The guidance designed to curb the health risks of too much cumulative sitting time was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.