In a typical working week, people spend on average 5 hours and 41 minutes per day sitting at their desk and 7 hours sleeping at night. Prolonged sitting at your desk is not only bad for your physical health, but potentially your mental well-being.
These are some of the key findings of research being presented today by Dr Myanna Duncan, Mr. Aadil Kazi and Professor Cheryl Haslam from the Work & Health Research Centre, Loughborough University, of the Division of Occupational Psychology’s annual conference in Chester.
Nearly 70 per cent of employees surveyed did not meet recommended guidelines for physical activity; interestingly 50 per cent of people surveyed aged 50 years and under, failed to meet these guidelines.
The findings also showed:
- That those who sit for longer at work are more likely to sit outside of work.
- A correlation between BMI scores and sitting time at work, as one would expect.
- That more time spent sitting at work was associated with a decrease in mental well-being.
The findings were a subset of a larger study looking at employee’s experiences of Occupational Health provision, over an 18 month period during 2009-2011. The psychologists conducted an on-line and paper based survey with over 1000 employees measuring employee’s use and experiences of occupational health services and their physical activity levels.
Specific measures included Lifestyle and physical activity, Domain Specific Sitting Time Questionnaire, Work Ability Index, General Health Questionnaire and Job Attitudes (job satisfaction, organisational commitment, job motivation, intention to quit). Interviews and focus groups with Occupational Health professionals were also conducted.
In the UK, as elsewhere in Europe, there are now twice as many workers aged 50 and over as there are aged 25 or younger. Health, work and well-being have been identified by Dame Carol Black as a key Government priority in order to maintain the health of all workers across their lifespan so as they are able to continue working healthily and productively into their 70s.
Dr Duncan says:
“People don’t need a psychologist to tell them to get up and walk around. But if it helps, I’d tell them to put a post-it note on their computer to remind them. Anyway go and talk to your colleagues face to face, it’s a lot more sociable and better for you than emailing them.”