Using a standing desk alongside a package of other measures to encourage office workers to sit less and move more, reduced sitting time by about an hour a day over one year, finds a trial published in The BMJ. These measures were also linked to small (though not clinically meaningful) improvements in stress, wellbeing, and energy levels at work. BeUpstanding team members Professors Genevieve Healy and David Dunstan were part of the research team that was led by A/Prof Charlotte Edwardson from The University of Leicester in the UK. What was the study about? The randomised controlled trial was evaluating the impact of the Smart Work and Life intervention with and without a sit-stand workstation, compared to a comparison group. The Smart Work and Life intervention is designed to support desk-based workers to sit less and move more, both in the workplace and at home. The trial involved 756 office workers from two councils in Leicester, three in Greater Manchester, and one in Liverpool. Similar to BeUpstanding, the Smart Work and Life (SWAL) intervention uses workplace champions to deliver the intervention. Those in the intervention group were given a range of resources to help them reduce their sitting time, and highlight…
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Strong evidence indicates that excessive time spent sitting (sedentary behaviour) is detrimentally associated with multiple chronic diseases. A paper titled “Modelling the potential health and economic benefits of reducing population sitting time in Australia” has recently been published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity and describes the development of the first Australian sedentary behaviour model that can be used to predict the long term consequences of interventions targeted at reducing sedentary behaviour through reductions in sitting time. The authors report that sedentary behaviour is prevalent among adults in Australia and has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, estimating the potential health benefits and healthcare cost saving associated with reductions in population sitting time, could be useful for the development of public health initiatives. A sedentary behaviour model was developed and incorporated into an existing proportional, multi-state, life table Markov model (ACE-Obesity Policy model). This model simulates the 2019 Australian population (age 18 years and above) and estimates the incidence, prevalence and mortality of five diseases associated with sedentary behaviour (type 2 diabetes, stroke, endometrial, breast and colorectal cancer). According to the model, if all Australian adults sat no more than 4 h per day, this would result in health…
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A recent blog post titled ‘Can Too much Sitting be Contributing to Depression’ was published by the Sedentary Behaviour Research Network. It looked at the relationship between sitting and depression and reported that the research seems to support the idea that excessive sitting is positively correlated with an increase in depression. It also highlighted two distinct types of sedentary sitting behaviour: mentally passive (ex. Watching television) and mentally active (ex.reading or driving), and that it is the mentally passive sitting that could have deleterious health effects. You can read the full blog here.
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COVID saw us sitting longer – and diabetes rose globally by 16% in 2 years. Time to get moving Christian Brakenridge, Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute and David Dunstan, Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute New figures show global diabetes prevalence has increased by 16% in the past two years, with 537 million adults (aged 20-79) now estimated to be living with the chronic condition. Over this same time period, COVID has stopped us doing some of the things that help prevent and manage diabetes. One particularly concerning example is an increase to sedentary behaviour (sitting down for long periods of time), which was already at dangerous levels pre-COVID. Some estimates indicate the pandemic added an average three hours to our sitting time each day. Now lockdowns have eased in many places, it is vital we get moving again – and in the right way – to change this picture. Reducing sitting time is a good starting place to help people with diabetes, pre-diabetes and other chronic conditions to reach healthier levels of physical activity. A growing global problem Data from the International Diabetes Federation’s 10th Diabetes Atlas, officially launched today, shows about 10% of the world’s population aged 20–79 now live…
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One of BeUpstanding’s lead investigators, Associate Professor Genevieve Healy, presented at the recent national Musculoskeletal Disorders Symposium in June. The event was held virtually and hosted by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, on behalf of the Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities in Australia, and featured international and national experts, industry case studies, and online exhibitors with the theme of MSD prevention by design. Genevieve’s presentation titled “Addressing sedentary behaviour: occupational sitting, an emerging workplace health and safety issue” focused on why excessive sedentary time has now been acknowledged as an emergent health and safety issue and potential solutions for supporting workers to sit less and move more. Genevieve also presented some early findings from the BeUpstanding national implementation trial we have currently underway, that are showing reductions in self-reported musculoskeletal discomfort scores in three areas (Lower back; Upper back, neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, or hands; and hips, thighs, buttocks, knees, ankles, or feet), with nearly a 15% relative reduction overall. Promising early results! You can now view the presentation as well as some of the other presentations via this link. Happy watching!
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BeUpstanding is about supporting workers to sit less and move more through raising awareness and creating a supportive culture for change. At this stage, there is no individual support provided for staff (though stay tuned on that!). However, many of the BeUpstanding research team are also involved with the OPTIMISE study, which is about understanding how to support workers with type 2 diabetes to sit less and move more across the day and the benefits of doing so. Intervention participants receive a sit-stand workstation, a Fitbit, tailored feedback and health coaching to help support them set and achieve goals both during work time and outside of work time. The study is now seeking volunteers, so if you live in Melbourne, have type 2 diabetes, and have a sedentary job, and this sounds of interest, please get in touch with the OPTIMISE research team via this link. Check out the recent news item for some more information.
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The annual Active Sitting Survey® run in the UK found that 47% of office workers surveys spent nearly their whole working day (7+ hours) sedentary, up from 26% pre-pandemic. Two thirds of respondents also indicated that their workday sitting time had increased during lockdown. Active Working have been carrying out the annual survey of over 1000 participants since 2015. The survey also looked specifically at prolonged sedentary time, finding that 51% of public sector staff said they spend at least 90 minutes at a time seated each day compared to 39% of private sector colleagues. However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom with 30% of respondents indicating that their boss cared about their health “very much”, up from 16% the previous year. The full press release can be found here.
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The International Society for Physical Activity and Health (ISPAH) has paired up with WHO to run a series of webinars based on the release of the WHO Guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour. The latest one on the 4th March featured BeUpstanding principal investigator A/Prof Genevieve Healy as part of the line-up, talking about the evidence on how to reduce sedentary behaviour. Check out the video below. You can also catch the other webinars in the series at: https://www.ispah.org/resources/free-webinars/
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A new report, funded by Wellcome, explores the potential health risks associated with high levels of occupational sitting and methods to reduce excessive sitting in the workplace or home working environment. Below is a summary of the report, taken from here. A full summary of the report can be found here, while a summary presentation of our key findings can be found here, and a podcast can be found here. BeUpstanding investigators David Dunstan and Genevieve Healy were co-authors on the report, which was led by Aaron Kandola. Full author list: Aaron Kandola, Jessica Rees, Brendon Stubbs, David W Dunstan, Genevieve N Healy, Joseph F Hayes Background Due to the rising prevalence of desk-based work, excessive sitting represents an emerging occupational health and safety issue. Employed adults are typically sitting for over 9 hours per day. Spending large periods of the day seated with insufficient active breaks increases the risk of several physical and mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety disorders. Allowing or facilitating excessive sitting in the workplace can affect employees’ mental health and compromise the duty of care between an employer and employee. Combatting excessive occupational sitting with regular breaks involving light activity for a couple of…
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By now we all know that the COVID-19 global pandemic has caused an unprecedented change in how and where people are working. Helping people to sit less and move more at work has been a key priority in recent years, with much of the focus being on the office workplace. The phrases ‘pre-COVID’ and ‘COVID-normal’ are thrown around a fair bit these days, but perhaps they are a fitting way to describe the shift that many desk-based workers have experienced. Even for those who have now returned to their workplaces, the ‘pre-COVID’ work environment is likely to be quite different to the ‘COVID-normal’ workplaces many are now working in. Other workers have seen a complete (perhaps long term) shift to working remotely, or a mix of both. What remains, however, is the need to ensure a safe and healthy workplace for everyone. We do not yet know the long-term impacts of these current changes to our work environment, but we do know that there is a clear need to continue to help workers to be able to sit less and move more, regardless of where they are working. The term ‘desk-based workers’ rather than ‘office workers’ is a term we often…
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