Are You a Sitting Duck?

If you spend the majority of your day seated, then this post is for you.

With the introduction of modern day technology, we are experiencing a global shift away from many of the manual labour tasks and moving instead towards sedentary, chair based occupations and pastimes. But is this something that we should be quacking about?

Research highlights a frightening relationship between sedentary behaviour and an increased risk of all-cause mortality and disease, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cancer. The term ‘sedentary behaviour’ can be used to classify any time (excluding the time spent sleeping) where you are expending less than 1.5 times of your resting energy expenditure. This can include watching TV on the couch, commuting to and from work, reading a book, and yes, those 8 hours every day at the desk.

What’s even more important is that this relationship is independent of factors such as your physical activity levels and your BMI. This means that the health consequences of sedentary time still apply to those who meet the physical activity guidelines.  In other words, the time spent seated every day has its own contribution to disease risk, which is additive to those risks posed by low physical activity levels.

So what can you do? At work, aim to take short breaks throughout the day to get up, have a walk around the office, stretch your legs, simply move. Focus on the frequency of breaks i.e. 1-2 minutes every half hour, rather than longer and less frequent breaks. You may want to consider investing in a sit-to-stand desk, where you have the flexibility of working from both a seated or standing position. From home, try to reduce any unnecessary time spent seated- replace TV time with an evening walk for example.

Break the habit of sitting and embrace a healthier you. You might just take to it like a duck to water.


Rezende LFMd, Rodrigues Lopes M, Rey-López JP, Matsudo VKR, Luiz OdC (2014). Sedentary Behavior and Health Outcomes: An Overview of Systematic Reviews. PLOS ONE 9(8): e105620.

Owen, N., Healy, G. N., Matthews, C. E., & Dunstan, D. W. (2010). Too Much Sitting: The Population-Health Science of Sedentary Behavior. Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, 38(3), 105–113.

Mailey, E. L., Rosenkranz, S. K., Casey, K., & Swank, A. (2016). Comparing the effects of two different break strategies on occupational sedentary behavior in a real world setting: A randomized trial. Preventive Medicine Reports, 4, 423–428.

Yolanda van Vugt, MSc., Clinical Exercise Physiologist

Leave a Reply