Sitting In An Australian Office Is Terrible For Your Health

Not all offices are equal. Sir Richard Branson celebrates the start of Wimbledon. Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images

Doctors are worried about sedentary working conditions in Australian offices, according to an article in the Medical Journal of Australia.

“Contemporary offices may be failing to provide a safe system of work,” says Professor Leon Straker, professor of physiotherapy at Curtin University in Perth.

On average, more than 75% of the office workday is spent sitting, with much of this accumulated in unbroken bouts of at least 30 minutes.

“There is now also evidence that both overall sedentary time and the pattern of sedentary exposure are associated with substantial harm,” Professor Straker and colleagues write in the journal.

Professor Straker and colleagues wrote that Australia’s work health and safety laws require employers to provide a safe system of work.

Excessive sitting is associated with premature mortality, obesity, some cancers, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, while regular interruption of sedentary time is “beneficially associated with biomarkers for chronic conditions”, they say.

Changing a worker’s physical environment via the introduction of sit–stand workstations or active workstations, or combined approaches including environmental and organisational changes could be done relatively cheaply for considerable reduction in risk.

“Some risk reduction strategies, such as introducing standing meetings, are costless,” the experts write.

“While other strategies have a cost, the cost does not seem disproportionate given the potential for significant harm.”

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