Workers in Britain are racking up an average of nine hours sitting-time a day – and when they’re not in a chair or aching because of one, they’re falling out with others over them, new research from AXA PPP healthcare has found 
The healthcare company’s poll of 2,000 people who use a chair during some or most of their working day found that, on average, they’re spending five hours sitting at work, an hour or more seated while travelling to and from work and over three hours sitting down during their own time. This nine-hour sit time total is tantamount to a UK flight to the Caribbean, a drive from Brighton to Edinburgh or climbing and descending Snowden.
With so much time spent being sedentary it’s not surprising that over seven out of ten (73 per cent) respondents reported suffering from musculoskeletal problems such as back, neck and shoulder pain.
Yet, whilst the research shows that most workers’ (86 per cent) are aware of the potential health hazards of a sedentary existence (as well as musculoskeletal problems this includes coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes) , fewer than half of them (43 per cent) say they try to do something about it by getting out of their seats regularly. Twenty-seven per cent say they feel they can’t do anything about it and 19 per cent maintain being seated for protracted periods of time won’t affect their health. Twelve per cent said they were aware of the danger but ‘didn’t care’.
Jan Vickery,Head of Musculoskeletal Services for AXA PPP healthcare, comments: “Sitting for prolonged periods of time can create muscle and joint problems and/or exacerbate existing ones. The intensity and pace of working life today makes it all too easy to fall into the trap of staying rooted to our seats for protracted periods and then slumping into a comfy chair when the working day done. But it’s important to break up the long-haul sitting style with regular spells of activity to re-energise and promote better health and to lower the risks associated with sedentary living – both now and over longer term.”
For Brits and their chairs it doesn’t end there. Almost four out of ten confessed to having had a spat with someone over a seat at work, at home or in public, with respondents reporting disagreements caused by a range of discourteous or annoying behaviours such as another person grabbing a seat they were about to use (16 per cent), or the other party occupying their seat (14 per cent). ‘Space invaders’ (taking up two seats or encroaching respondents’ personal space, 13per cent and 11 per cent respectively) were another source of irritation as were squatters who altered (12 per cent) or left a mess on the respondent’s chair (12 per cent).
Jan Vickery concludes: “While there may be very little we can do to change other people’s selfish behaviour and poor manners, we can take greater control over our own chair habits for better health. It’s important to keep check on the length of time we’re seated and avoid unbroken stretches of static time. Make sure you take regular breaks – say, every half hour or so – to stretch your legs and clear your head. And try applying good active habits at home as well as at work so they become part of your natural behaviour. Taking such steps can make a big difference and help to make regular activity the norm rather than the exception.”
For more information on how to keep you muscles, bones and joints healthy, visit https://www.axappphealthcare.co.uk/health-information/musculoskeletal/.
1. Research of 2,007 UK adults carried undertaken in October 2016 by market research agency Atomik.
2. Lee IM, Shiroma EJ, Lobelo F, Puska P, Blair SN, Katzmarzyk PT, Lancet Physical Activity Series Working Group, Effect of physical inactivity on major non-communicable diseases worldwide: an analysis of burden of disease and life expectancy, Lancet 2012; 380: 219–29