United Kingdom

Office workers less active than 75-year-olds

August 2017


The traditional 9-5 is creating a new generation of sedentary male middle-aged workers who are less active than over 75-year-olds, research by Edinburgh University has revealed.

Male office workers between the ages of 45-54 spend around 7.8 hours per weekday in sedentary time whilst for men over 75, it's around 7.4 hours.

Sedentary time refers to waking hours being spent sitting or lying down, either at a desk, watching TV, reading or eating. The situation was slightly reduced among women across all age groups, who were found to be sedentary around 7.5 hours per weekday.

Only men in the youngest surveyed age group of 16-24 were significantly less sedentary than over 75s, spending just 6.6 hours per day sitting down. For this group, most sedentary time was 'screen time', watching TV, at a computer or using a mobile phone or tablet.

The study also found that those aged between 25 to 54 were the least sedentary at the weekend, accruing up to 5.7 hours in sedentary time whilst the over 70s spent up to 7.4 hours sitting down or resting.

Amy Froude, principal at Aon Employee Benefits said: "The fact is that you burn 30 per cent more calories when you're standing than when you're sitting. It's not a huge amount, but it adds up over time. Or put it another way, five or more hours of sitting is the health equivalent of smoking a pack and a quarter of cigarettes."

The Telegraph also reported that high levels of sedentary time – over seven hours a day – increases the risk of diseases and chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes and some cancers.

In fact, a recent Aon study showed that musculoskeletal problems, associated with a lack of exercise, obesity and generally inactive lifestyles are becoming more prevalent in the workforce and are starting to dominate PMI claims.

Martha How, principal at Aon Employee Benefits warned that sedentary work and bad posture at work may be "contributory factors" to musculoskeletal disorders.

"It is not surprising that so many corporate wellbeing initiatives focus on fitness, diet and lifestyle, especially as future claims are expected to be driven by primarily lifestyle-related risks: high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol and physical inactivity," she added.

Froude added: "These latest statistics are by no means surprising. The fact is, companies are well aware of this issue and it's why so many companies are now looking to implement walk and talk meetings or are starting to use pedometers or other wellbeing apps to help motivate staff to move more or simply stand more. The key is for these wellness initiatives to assist with making changes to sedentary behaviour habits, something many people do without thinking."



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