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The dangers of prolonged sitting – 9 ways excessive sitting can harm you (Source: Get Britain Standing)

You may have heard of the emerging science showing the dangers of prolonged sitting – and the health benefits of increasing the amount of time spent  standing or walking on a daily basis.

British people sit for 8.9 hours each day (on average). Add in sleeping hours and you get to a total of over 70% of your typical work day being physically inactive.  In recent years a variety of major international research studies has produced compelling evidence that sitting for more than four hours each day leads to significant increased risk of contracting: heart disease, diabetes, cancers (bowel, womb and lung), depression and muscle degeneration.

Prolonged sitting in the workplace can contribute to major health issues and regardless of how physically active you are, the risks are not necessarily reduced. The traditional office environment – a place where most employees can spend up to six – eight hours sat at their desks – may well be the single biggest contributing factor to an early grave.

The latest evidence, presented by, makes for pretty scary reading, with every hour you sit each day above the four hour guideline level leading to increased risks.
Furthermore “multiple research shows that increased exercise for an hour or so per day can’t undo the negative effects of sitting for eight hours, any more than running a mile can’t erase the damage caused by a smoking habit”.

Gavin Bradley, Director of Get Britain Standing, is very clear on what needs to be done: “The primary focus has to be reducing our sitting time – especially at work.  It all starts with assessing your Sitting Calculator – just as you assess your daily calories, weekly exercise and alcohol consumption. Like 5 a day, you should be sitting no more than 4 – 5 hours a day.”

“The sit-stand desk, which enables your workstation to go up and down, is the optimal solution.  By mixing up your time at the desk between sitting and standing, you make huge leaps forward to improving your wellness in the workplace, whilst increasing productivity too”.

Now pioneering companies are latching on the benefits of sit-stand in introducing them on the back of a compelling business case justified by triple payback savings from:

  1. Improved wellness
  2. Higher productivity
  3. Increase employee engagement

Other ways to break your sitting routine

Whilst Sit-Stand workstations are a great way of avoiding sitting in the workplace, there are other ways to increase activity and break up sitting time in your workplace, such as:

  • Taking the stairs rather than the lift
  • Holding standing or walking meetings
  • Getting up and visiting colleagues instead of emailing
  • Setting reminders to get up from your desk and move every hour
  • Going for walks during lunch breaks
  • Moving the office rubbish bins to one corner of the office
  • Generating awareness by creating posters and name badges that say ‘I’m sitting less’, ‘Stand up for your health’, ‘I’m taking a stand’, and distribute around the office and to staff

Gavin Bradley, Director of Get Britain Standing, says: “We all know a sedentary lifestyle is bad for us, we just don’t realise how bad it is. Spending less time sitting down really can add years to your life. That is the most important message.

“Unfortunately, it seems to be the hardest one for people to believe.’’ Britain languishes with one of the highest rates of obesity in the world; it should come as no surprise that our Scandinavian cousins lead the way when it comes to tackling the problem of physical inactivity. Bradley continues: “Throughout Scandinavia, over 80% of office workers have sit-stand desks.  In the UK, the figure is less than 1%.”

Whilst Britain may have been slow on the uptake, both manufacturers and end-user businesses are starting to heed the message and there is great interest in the forthcoming Workplace Wellbeing and Stress Summit to be held on the 27th November and hosted by Symposium Events. The event is targeted at senior professionals responsible for wellbeing, productivity, workplace design and engagement in the workplace and will cover:

  1. Wellbeing: why the Finance Director should take notice
  2. Practical steps to recognising and relieving stress
  3. Manage demographic changes in the workplace
  4. Explore the concept of mindfulness
  5. Move the mental health agenda forward in the organisation
  6. Sit-Stand for a healthier workplace
  7. Keep long term wellbeing programmes fresh and alive


Get Britain Standing has a unique sitting calculator which enables you to calculate whether you’re daily routine is exposing you to higher risk of ill health.




Gavin has 20 years of experience in emerging market consultancy, working for variety of global brands including Coca-Cola, Mars, Cable & Wireless, Liberty Global (owners of Virgin Media).

He is also managing partner of Global Sports Licensing contracted to FC Barcelona, Arsenal FC, FC Bayern Munich and Chelsea FC in Asia.

After working for a charity in Sweden where he first discovered Sit-Stand workstations (considered the norm in offices across Scandinavia) Gavin soon became alarmed by the growing research detailing significant health risks & engagement restraints of “Prolonged SITTING”. Gavin founded the social enterprise ACTIVE WORKING C.IC and campaign “Get Britain Standing” in 2014.

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