Sedentary work

Sedentary behaviour such as prolonged sitting poses significant health risks. Australian workers spend approximately 76 percent of their time at work sitting, which equates to about 5 hours per day. A quarter of the population report that they sit for more than 8 hours per day.

Office and administrative workers have a greater risk of excessive sedentary behaviour which can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, some cancers, type II diabetes and musculoskeletal disorders. When sitting for long periods, workers can also report feeling tired, less productive and unhealthy.

Interestingly, exercise performed outside work does not negate the risks factors of prolonged sitting.

Control measures

Measures to reduce sedentary behaviour and promote moving more may include:

  • review job and task design to minimise sitting time
  • taking regular breaks – get up and move every 30 minutes
  • vary work tasks to encourage posture change and muscle use
  • introduce height adjustable, sit-stand desks
  • promote a ‘standing-friendly culture’ such as a standing reading area or standing in meetings
  • organise active meetings so you can ‘walk and talk’
  • encourage workers to take their lunch break away from their desk
  • move rubbish bins away from desks so workers have to get up to use it

More activity

Building more activity into your day can make a big difference to your health, try:

  • walking to deliver a message to colleagues rather than emailing
  • stand to read documents
  • use the stairs instead of the lift
  • exercise in your lunch break
  • for short trips, walk or cycle and leave the car at home
  • stand on public transport and get off one stop earlier and walk the rest of the way
  • park further away from your destination and walk

More information

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