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August 17, 2015

Move More Sit Less


It is ironic that I am sitting down to write about why sitting down is so bad for me. But I’ll be up and about soon, as I’ve seen the light. If I have been sitting down for an hour, that’s too long. Every hour of sitting should be broken up once or twice if possible.

Let’s look at the facts:

We are sitting down every day for longer than any generation before us. We sit for even longer than we sleep. Prolonged sitting is contributing to health risks such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, some cancers (particularly breast and bowel cancer), high blood pressure, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and dementia. And that’s just to name a few. Prolonged sitting is also having an impact on our mental and social health.

Kids are more sedentary than ever before. Just think about why – they spend a lot of time in the car, there is reduced green-space to play in and even playing has become more sedentary due to so much time being spent at screens and society’s fear of danger and crime. Plus, a large part of a child’s school day involves sitting down.

We are in the midst of a sedentary epidemic!

Without a doubt physical activity reduces our physical and mental health risks. Any activity is better than none but a certain optimal level has been identified by the new national guidelines. Here are the guidelines for adults aged 18-64:

Physical Activity Guidelines

  • Doing any physical activity is better than doing none. If you currently do no physical activity, start by doing some, and gradually build up to the recommended amount.
  • Be active on most, preferably all, days every week.
  • Accumulate 150 to 300 minutes (2 ½ to 5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes (1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours) of vigorous intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities, each week.
  • Do muscle strengthening activities on at least 2 days each week.

Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines

  • Minimise the amount of time spent in prolonged sitting.
  • Break up long periods of sitting as often as possible.

Bluearth, a not-for-profit organisation devoted to health promotion in our communities has some great tips for how to build activity into our lives. They have tips sheets suited for the differing needs of different age groups, from older adults to adults to children.

Natureplay WA is an amazing resource for getting kids out and about. It was established to increase the time Western Australian children spend in unstructured play outdoors and in nature. Unstructured, outdoor activity has been shown to improve physical, mental and social functioning of children and adults. See more, including Things to Do in Perth at Nature Play WA.