Get off your bum now!
Spending hours of your day sitting might be shortening your life, even if you're getting the recommended amounts of daily exercise.
·       Do you spend large chunks of your day sitting?
·       Are you glued to a computer screen?
·       Are you stuck to a phone for hours?
Here’s the bad news: Research has found all this sitting seems to increase your risk of death from heart disease and other causes. This happens even if you exercise regularly!
"If you do 30 to 60 minutes a day of exercise, you tick the box of being active," says Melbourne exercise researcher, Dr David Dunstan. "But then you potentially have 15 or so hours a day when you're not sleeping and not exercising that you could be spending predominantly sitting." Exercising every day won't necessarily undo this damage. In fact, excessive sitting might undo the benefits of our daily exercise.
There's evidence the typical office worker is sedentary for 75 per cent of their working day. Research conducted over the past decade is showing it's become clear this sitting affects our body's processing of fats and sugars in ways that increase our risk of heart disease and diabetes.
"When we're idle, we're not contracting muscles and muscle contraction is an important component of the body's regulatory processes," says Dunstan, from the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute.
The researchers linked four or more hours a day of television watching with an 80 per cent increased risk of death from heart disease, and a 46 per cent increased risk of death from all causes. That's compared to people who spent less than two hours a day in front of the box.
But it's the fact we watch TV while sitting or lying still that's the problem, rather than TV per se, Dunstan says. This clearly has implications for the highly sedentary workplace environment, something health authorities and employers in Australia are only just starting to come to terms with.
The key is to avoid sitting as much as possible or at least break up your sitting time – even if only by standing, which uses more muscles than sitting. (This is not mentioned in the current national exercise guidelines but Dunstan and others believe they need to change.)

What you can do

Even little activities like getting up to make a cup of tea can make a difference. "We've actually reported that people who break up their sedentary time throughout the day, regardless of their total sedentary time, have a better health profile," Dunstan says. "It all comes down to moving the muscles." 
Try smaller measures – both at work and at home, such as:
  • Standing when you use your phone (or use a cordless handset or headset so you can move around even more)
  • Moving your rubbish bin/printer further away from your desk so you need to get off your chair to access them
  • Taking the stairs instead of the lifts between floors
  • Walking to a colleague to talk to them instead of sending an email
  • Getting up to move around for few minutes or so every hour
  • Doing household chores like ironing or folding the washing while watching TV
  • Standing to watching children's sporting activities.
A selection of comments by various bloggers in response to an article in the ABC:
1.   Take the article for what it is - a critique of prolonged inactivity.
2.   I find I have to get up at least once an hour, go fill my water bottle, go to the bathroom etc. I also find I'm very restless at my desk, and tend to move around a bit in my seat. Being a phone monkey and pretty much tied to the desk is really quite inhibiting, so my body seems to resist it as much as it can.
3.   It would be interesting to look at other benefits of moving around at work, for example, the old cliché of pacing the floor to help with thinking about a problem - does that actually help thinking activity or generate more creative thoughts? If so, then there could be even more selling points for standing up at work?
4.   At my workplace we have built an application to help get you standing and doing exercises during the day it is free:
5.   In the American Cancer Society's Cancer Prevention II study, it found that women who reported more than six hours per day of sitting were 37 percent more likely to die during the time period studied than those who sat fewer than 3 hours a day. And men were 18 percent more likely to die.