'Cultural change' needed to lower sitting time at work, says expert
'Just get up and move': Dean Kriellaars urges people to stand up and move at least once an hour
A new study that suggests sitting for too long can be deadly in the long run, even if you exercise regularly, has an exercise physiologist in Winnipeg calling for workplace changes that encourage employees to stand and walk more often.
In an analysis that pooled data from 41 international studies, Toronto researchers found the amount of time a person sits during the day is associated with a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and death, regardless of regular exercise.
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Dean Kriellaars, an associate professor of physical therapy at the University of Manitoba, says most people need to exercise as well as keep moving throughout the day in order to stay healthy.
"It's critical that this requires cultural change — that just means in policy, in legislative incentives, in terms of giving breaks [to] workers and employees," he told CBC News.
The authors of the paper, which was published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, can't say how much sitting time is too much — more research is needed to understand what represents a healthy balance between being sedentary and engaging in physical activity.
Kriellaars said people should get moving at least once every hour.
"Every hour, just get up and move a little bit," he said.
"You can stand up and do certain tasks, go for a walking meeting … you can have your lunch and then instead of doing 30 minutes of chatting, chat while you walk."
Kriellaars said he understands it can be challenging for some, especially drivers and others who have to be seated for long periods of time as part of their jobs, to get up every hour.
The change, he said, starts with employers.
Winnipegger Diane Poulin agrees that it's up to workplaces to adapt.
She enjoys regular exercise to stay healthy and happy, but she says her desk job can make it challenging to get enough workout time.
"A lot of times, I'm writing, I'm answering phone calls, I'm doing emails. So probably in any given day, it's about six hours a day that I'm sort of trapped at my desk," said Poulin, who works in communications.
Poulin said she tries to walk as much as she can during the day to counter the sedentary nature of the job.