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May 12, 2017


WARNING: the object you are sitting on is harmful to your health…

Daniel Cornish explains that sedentary behaviour is now recognised as an independent risk factor for heart disease. Daniel is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist with ESSA and is part of the Health in Balance team located at Caulfield South, Victoria.

As Exercise Physiologists, we pride ourselves in our understanding of how and why exercise is the best medicine for our human bodies. Every man and his dog knows the recommendations for exercise: ’30 minutes moderate intensity, most if not all days of the week’ for general health, and to reduce the risk of chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular disease (CVD), type 2 diabetes, cancer etc. However, is a 30-minute walk really enough, to ensure you live a long, quality-filled life?

A 2010 study showed that the more hours a day you sit, the greater your likelihood of dying an earlier death regardless of how much you exercise, or how slim, lean or ‘cut’ you are. The study assessed the relationship between sedentary time (sitting in the car, in front of the TV, at the desk) and the risk of premature death from CVD, in a group of 7744 men aged 20-89 years old. Results showed that men who reported more than 23 hours a week of sedentary activity, had a 64 percent greater risk of death from CVD than those who reported less than 11 hours a week of sedentary activity. These findings may not surprise you, and the results are certainly not ground-breaking.

Research dating back as early as the 1950’s has told us told us of the dangers of physical inactivity. In 1953, British researchers examined the risk of premature CVD death in two groups of workers in the London public transport system: bus drivers and conductors. Inherently, while conductors spent the vast majority of their workdays on their feet (engaged in ‘incidental activity’), the drivers were more likely to sit. Results showed (surprise, surprise) that the sedentary drivers were approximately twice as likely to die prematurely of CVD than the sedentary conductors.

So what’s next? How do you stay well, and grow old with a prosperous bill of health? A few tips which may not be ground-breaking, but will prevent you clutching at your chest gasping for air at a ripe young age:

  • Continue to hit the gym or the pavement on most days to accumulate at least 150 minutes per week of structured activity (the research does indicate that structured exercise does reduce risk of premature CVD mortality)
  • During the day, find as many ways as possible to get your body moving: stand up to change the TV channel rather than relying on the remote; walk to the postbox to post the mail; do five squats whenever you stand from a chair; walk to your colleague’s office rather than making a phone call or email… etc.
  • If your work involves sitting for long periods, stand briefly once every 10 minutes, or better still
  • Try a standing work-station.
Work Desk

If you’re in the Melbourne area and you’d like to learn more, or to find out how a tailored lifestyle plan will assist with your health, fitness, or rehabilitation goals, don’t hesitate to contact Health in Balance on 03 9523 5110.


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