Categories: Brain, General, Health

Are you sitting comfortably? 

By  Lysette Offley

I hope not! It’ll be the death of you!

Are you sitting comfortably? - Photo of people sittingOh dear – something else we’re doing all wrong…

Do you too despair at the almost constant barrage of research telling us what we’re doing wrong?

As is so often the case, the latest news is about our sedentary lifestyles. Yes, yes, we know we’re not getting enough exercise and many of us intend to getting around to doing some thing about that!

Or maybe we’ve ‘been good’ and take regular exercise, just as we ‘should’. Either way, according to recent studies – we’re missing the point!

Are you sitting comfortably? Photo of boy watching TV

Well, not entirely, because of course, exercise is good for you. Well… some is… as long as it’s the right sort, for the right duration and frequency… Just trying to fathom out what we should be doing is exhausting!

And now,  to throw a proverbial spanner in the works, it seems that getting exercise right, doesn’t begin to undo the damage done by our sitting down for most of the day!

People who are constantly on the move, in their jobs or at home, escape the heath-destroying sitting-trap, but for the rest of us desk-bound folk – we’re building up real trouble for ourselves.

How many of us have got stuck into some work (usually on the computer), maybe revising for exams or trying to get a document out of the door and found, when we finally look up from what we’re doing, two hours or more have disappeared’? It’s a common experience for most of us these days.

Discover below how to deliberately counteract the sitting hazard. Meanwhile, I think I’ll go make a cup of tea and maybe put some washing on!

The problem

There has been lots of research, for example the study done over the course of 14 years of 123 000 middle-aged adults, by the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, Georgia and of the TV viewing habits of 8800 Australians, by the University of Queensland, Brisbane.

Inactivity Research Discoveries

  • Are you sitting comfortably? Photo of cat asleep in treeExtra time on the settee correlates with a 37% higher mortality rate for women and a 17% higher mortality rate for men. (What accounts for the difference between the sexes isn’t yet known.)
  • Each hour of TV takes 22 minutes of the life expectancy off people over 25. In other words, six hours of TV a day means dying five years earlier.
  • People who spend several hours a day sitting, have higher mortality rates even if they also exercise for 45-60 minutes a day.
  • From the moment you sit down, your body’s metabolism slows right down.
  • Sitting for long hours may lead to insulin resistance (the precursor of type II diabetes)
  • Inactivity may lead to cancer, particularly colon and endometrial cancer.
  • It creates and exacerbates bad posture and spinal compression. It gives you a bad back – but you know that already, don’t you!

We should move more, right?

Maybe like this clever lot. Keep watching – just when you think you’ve seen it all! Reminds me of supervising the children walking in paris (holding hands, of course – we’re talking 8 year olds here!) to St Helen’s Church, Abingdon for our various St Nicolas School events!


Are you sitting comfortably? Photo of couch potato

Sleep, of course, brings its own health benefits, but any other forms of inactivity, such as watching TV, reading a book or sitting at a desk all constitute the problem.

Most people have no idea just how long they spend sitting, but there’s an app for that! Smart phones and wearable devices with accelerometers can tell us how energetic we really are. Inclinometers tell us how much time we spend sitting. And for most, it’s more than we realise.

The human body hasn’t evolved for all this inactivity. If you look at it from an evolutionary point of view, we are meant to be active. Our grandparents were active. It’s a problem we have developed for ourselves over the last few decades.

If you spend your day running around after your young children, or if your occupation such as hairdressing, teaching, nursing or waiting in restaurants, has you moving around, you will escape the sitting trap.

If however, like me, you spend a lot of time sitting at a desk, you might like to consider the growing array of equipment available to encourage you to keep moving even while working. I’ve identified some of them, below. Hope you find my suggestions useful.

The science

Anything that raises your metabolic rate one and a half times above your resting rate constitutes light activity. Short activity breaks are enough to burn off some of the glucose that accumulates in the bloodstream, and will reduce your blood sugar count, and insulin spikes by about 25%. Moving around for five minutes every hour is enough to do this. What’s more, if you’re concerned about getting your work done, getting up from your desk in giving yourself a break, will make you more productive anyway. So the message is, take a break, at least once an hour, and move! If you’re at home watching the TV, get up every 20 minutes, or whenever there’s a break. Load the dishwasher, vacuum the hall, nip upstairs and put the washing away – you get the idea!

The solution

Are you sitting comfortably. Photo of internet shopping

A quick trawl through the internet and you’ll find all manner of products available for people who need to, or choose to stand and work. For example, the standing desk floor mat to keep you more comfortable for longer. The standing desk kit. The medicine ball chair, the treadmill, or more affordably, the twist-stepper. It will help keep you fit as you work! The beauty of this one is that you can measure the amount of time and the number of steps you’ve taken. Just like using a pedometer, seeing the measurements encourages us to move. I’ve been meaning for two years to raise the height of my desk, so that I can even more easily look out of my office window, at the river outside. I reckon now is the time, don’t you?



Time has passed since originally writing this article and I’m now standing at my desk. Or rather, leading on my elbows on my standing desk…

Old habits, it seems die hard!

Oh well, it’s a start!

standing desk


standing mat

sitting ball


standing desk























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Lysette Offley

Genius Maker & Founder of Genius Material and The Genius Principles. Working with professionals who need exceptional academic & professional development.

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