The Evidence

Simple activities to be active at your desk – Part 3

Desk-based workers can spend a lot of time at their desk sitting. If you are a regular follow of this blog, you will know that high levels of sitting time can have several detrimental impacts on health and wellbeing, including on cognitive function, risk of diabetes, physical function and quality of life. Prolonged sitting – that is, sitting for a long time without taking a break – is emerging as particularly harmful, which is why we promote regular breaks from sitting at BeUpstanding. Indeed, a 2022 systematic review and meta-analysis by Loh and colleagues highlighted the beneficial effects of having regular physical activity breaks on blood sugar, insulin, and triacylglycerol measures. Their article concluded that taking short breaks from prolonged sitting results in better glycemic control and improved metabolic control compared to individuals who do not incorporate short physical activity breaks. One impact of too much sitting for too long is on our musculoskeletal health. Here, prolonged sitting can cause tight hip flexors and leg muscles. Vanroelen (2022) states that these imbalances are due to the shortened and lengthened muscles in your legs due to muscle weakness and tightness. These imbalances can lead to a compensatory hyperlordosis or excessive inward…

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Modelling the potential health and economic benefits of reducing population sitting time in Australia

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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Champion Insights – Barriers to engaging management and staff in BeUpstanding

Implementing a well-being program in a workplace can come with some challenges, one of which can be engaging staff and/or management in the program. As part of the national trial of BeUpstanding we are interested in learning what some of the barriers were in relation to engaging staff and management in the BeUpstanding program, a workplace champion led program aimed at supporting staff to sit less and move more in the workplace. As part of the program completion survey that BeUpstanding Champions complete upon finishing the 8-week implementation phase of the BeUpstanding program, they are asked the following question: “Tell us about any barriers to engaging management or staff in the BeUpstanding program that you have noticed”. The changes associated with working from home due to COVID-19, namely the lack of visibility and the lack of equipment, were identified as common barriers. It’s hard to get everyone on board.  Working from home made it more challenging – less visibility. Some staff were working from home during the program where they didn’t have sit to stand desks and fellow workers to encourage more movement. A lack of time/being too busy, and only having support from some levels of management, were also…

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Economics of Sedentary Behaviour

It is well established that sedentary behaviour is an established risk factor for several diseases; however, its economic impacts are less understood. Published in Preventative Medicine last week, a paper titled “Economics of sedentary behaviour: A systematic review of cost of illness, cost-effectiveness, and return on investment studies” is the first review that has investigated the broader economic credentials of Sedentary Behaviour. The authors, Nguyen P et al., reviewed the literature on the economic costs associated with excessive sedentary behaviour and the cost-effectiveness of interventions targeting sedentary time. The review identified nine articles. Three reported healthcare costs associated with excessive sedentary time, and found that healthcare costs associated with excessive sedentary time as reported in cost of illness studies were substantial. However, none explored non-health sector costs. In the six articles which were economic evaluations of interventions targeting sedentary behaviour, they adopted a societal perspective. However, costs included differed depending on the intervention context. The authors concluded that excessive sedentary behaviour is likely associated with excess healthcare costs and of the limited interventions targeting sedentary behaviour reduction that have been economically evaluated, most were likely to be cost-effective. The most promising interventions from a cost-effectiveness perspective were those that included…

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Can Too Much Sitting be Contributing to Depression?

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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BeUpstanding Champion Perspectives: What Makes a Good Champion

In a previous blog article titled ‘What makes a good champion’ we wrote about some of the qualities that make an effective workplace champion. Previous research suggests that those who have a genuine passion for health and wellbeing and are enthusiastic about the opportunity to inspire others towards a healthier lifestyle (Healy et al., 2018) are the most effective champions. They must also be committed to making long-term positive health changes in their workplace and display a good relationship with their peers. More general personality traits like outgoingness and motivation have been positively linked to champion performance (Howell, 2005). Highly motivated individuals are also more likely to engage with the content and be prepared to persist when faced with challenges. As part of the survey champions complete after finishing the 8-week BeUpstanding Program, they are asked what qualities or characteristics they believe make an effective champion in the BeUpstanding program, as well as what characteristics and qualities they possess that they feel helped them be a champion for their team. Common attributes identified by champions that they believe make a good BeUpstanding champion, based on their experiences, included motivated, approachable, committed, and positive. These qualities and others can be seen…

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