Keeping Active when you Sit at Work All Day

Healthy Living

Tammy George

women standing at sit stand desk to keep healthy

Spending too many hours each day sitting down has become known as the ‘new smoking’.

Our way of life means we can easily spend more than half the day seated. Combined with the hours spent lying in bed this equals a sedentary and harmful lifestyle. One study has shown that one hour of intensive exercise will not negate the poor insulin levels and plasma lipids in someone who has spent the rest of the day sitting down.

Effects Sitting Down Too Much

When we are sitting or lying down, we are burning fewer calories which make weight management more difficult. Being overweight contributes to heart disease and metabolic disease.

Sitting has also been linked to high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels. The pancreas can over produce insulin which can lead to diabetes. There is also a link between sitting and a greater risk of developing colon, breast, and endometrial cancers.

So if we know we need to spend more time being active throughout the day how can you achieve it if you spend eight hours in an office job?

Stand-up Desks

Standing desks have begun popping up in workplaces around Australia in recent years. Their adjustable height allows the user to work in either the standing or sitting position. If you spend just half the day standing, you will have burned an extra 1,000 calories by the end of the week.

A stand-up desk can improve back and neck pain caused by sitting for prolonged periods. Studies have also shown that you can increase your life expectancy by reducing the number of sitting hours to three per day.  

Keep Track

Aim for 10,000 steps per day. Use a personal tracking device so you know if you reach your daily step target. Use incidental exercise throughout the day to make up your steps and stop yourself from sitting for long periods of time.

  • Use your lunch break to go for a brisk walk
  • Stand up from your desk and walk outside several times a day to stretch your legs
  • Visit a colleague at their desk rather than picking up the phone
  • If you use public transport, get off a stop early or take the long way walking to work
  • If you park your car at work, do a few quick laps of the block before going in

When you arrive home from work, try not to flop down on the couch. Once you sit down, chances are you’ll stay there until bedtime. Try to keep active for a while to get in some more steps.

  • Spend time walking around the house putting everything back where it belongs
  • Hang out or sort the washing to keep your body moving
  • Walk the dog or meet up with a friend for a walk
  • Take the kids to the park
  • Join a gym or exercise class that you can do before or after work


Try to spend as little time as possible sitting on the weekends. Instead of spending your relaxation time on the lounge, do your relaxing at a park or beach after you have been for a walk instead. Rather than meeting friends at a restaurant every weekend, try mixing it up by going on a picnic.   

Visiting a nursery and gardening around home will give you good opportunities for some exercise. Get involved with the kids' sport and help with setup and training. Do the house cleaning to add to your daily steps.  

Encourage family members to reduce the number of hours they sit each day so you can support each other.

Tammy George

Please note: Tammy's blog is general advice only. For further information on this topic please consult your healthcare professional.


Steven Brewstet posted at 2:39 PM 07-Mar-2017

It is necessary for us to keep active when we sit at work all day. Nice article. Truly informative...

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