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Study shows sedentary workers most likely to lead inactive lifestyles

People in the most sedentary jobs are the least likely to be active outside of work, according to a new study from Loughborough University.

Researchers monitored 170 full-time office workers over seven days to record sedentary behaviour (or ‘sitting time’) both inside and outside of work.

Results showed people spend up to 70% of working hours in sedentary behaviour, and those who were most sedentary during the working day were also most sedentary away from work.

The least active group were sedentary for more than 10 hours a day on work days, leaving them at risk of a range of chronic diseases associated with sedentary lifestyles.

Sedentary behaviour has proven links to weight gain, obesity and chronic diseases including Type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

It is an important focus of emerging health research, but few studies have been done to date looking at office workers and their behaviour both inside and out of work.

Dr Stacy Clemes, a senior lecturer in human biology in the University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences (SSEHS) explains:

“Our findings add to growing evidence that highlight the workplace as a key setting for sedentary behaviour, and underline the importance of introducing workplace interventions to reduce or break up sitting time for office workers in the UK.

“Simple measures such as encouraging the use of pooled printers and centrally placed water coolers, and encouraging colleagues in the same building to talk face-to-face rather than by phone or email, could all help reduce the amount of time workers spend sedentary each day.

“It is possible to achieve the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week and still be classed as sedentary.

"What is particularly interesting in this study is that those people who are the most sedentary at work don’t compensate by increasing their physical activity or reducing their sedentary time outside of work.

“Future interventions for office workers should also address leisure-time sedentary behaviour.”

The paper ‘Office workers’ objectively measured sedentary behaviour and physical activity during and outside working hours’ has been published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine