ACT News


Renewed call for office workers to embrace stand up desks

A national health group has called on Canberra office workers to make use of stand up desks and to be more active in the workplace.

The call was issued after a survey of 1032 Australian adults found up to a third were sitting at desks or on couches for between eight and 11 hours a day.

The report, conducted by Victoria University's Professor Stuart Biddle​, found half of respondents reported improved concentration after breaking up long periods of sitting with exercise.

In Canberra, close to 60 per cent of respondents said they were sitting for longer than they realised each day. Those who sat for the majority of the day at work reported losses in productivity, energy and happiness.

Professor Biddle said those who sit a lot during work hours have a higher risk of heart disease, type two diabetes and cancer.

"The body shuts down while sitting – a bit like being weightless in space – and it's thought that sitting slows the body's metabolism, reducing our ability to regulate blood sugar and blood pressure and to burn fat," he said.


Wendy Gillett, chief executive officer of the Bluearth Foundation, said Australia needed to break its love affair with the chair and break up long periods of sitting.

"Exercise is good and to be encouraged but exercise alone is not enough," she said. "Better to exercise and break up long period of sitting and the best way to do that is to make sure you are moving through the day."

The National Heart Foundation has also warned about the dangers of physical inactivity and the need for Australians to move more and sit less.

The group believe sitting and physical inactivity have become "the new smoking" in Australia, causing nearly 14,000 associated deaths each year."We have abundant evidence that physical inactivity and sitting have become the new smoking, causing 134,000 related deaths a year, which puts it on par with smoking," said adjunct professor Trevor Shilton​, director of cardiovascular health at the Heart Foundation.

Professor David Dunstan, head of physical activity research at Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, has also linked stand up desks to health benefits and increased productivity.

"I guess if you figure the average Australian adult sits for over nine hours a day of which 80 per cent of that comes from sitting in the workplace," he said.