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Why move more at work?

Why move more at work?


Having a sedentary lifestyle is becoming more and more prevalent. Many of us have a job that involves being sat in front of a computer. There is lots of evidence suggesting excessive and prolonged sitting (irrespective of your level of physical activity outside of work) can lead to increased risks of:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Mental Health
  • Cancers
  • Backache
  • Obesity
  • Muscle degeneration


There has been a clamber of support for the standing desk being the be all and end all to the problems associated with sitting all day. Standing in one position all day, however, is likely to lead to different issues. The real answer, and the advice we give all our patients who spend large parts of their working day at a desk is to get up, change position, move! At least every 30 minutes. In most cases this is met with the response ‘but my colleagues will think I’m slacking if I’m never at my desk!”, our response to this is that you don’t necessarily need to leave your desk.

Just changing your position from sitting to standing reduces prolonged sitting and diminishes the risks associated with being stuck in this position for hours on end. When standing your heart beat speeds up by 10 beats a minute, meaning you are burning more calories over the hour. Standing up cause’s activation of key postural muscles, loads your muscles, encourages nutrients to your joints and you automatically become more dynamic which challenges your balance. It also allows you to stretch out your hip flexors which become tight in a seated position.

If there’s something you do as part of your job that doesn’t necessarily need to be done sat down, then stand whilst doing it. Whether this is answering the phone or speaking to a colleague, do it standing rather than sitting.


Another nice tip to help you stand more is to give yourself prompts to get up. Work (as much as we would prefer it didn’t) can get on top of us and before you know it you’ve sat for 2-3 hours in a row. By giving yourself prompts to get-up (e.g. write ‘STAND UP’ on a postit note and stick it on your monitor, set an alarm on your computer or smartphone etc) you will hopefully, even in your busiest moments, still make a point of getting up.


Here’s some other simple tips to get you up at work, to break up your sitting time and re-energise your body! Don’t worry about your colleagues questioning what you’re doing, get them to join in too!

  • Use your work space as a gym. Sit to stand 10 times from your office chair every 30 minutes.
  • Have resistance bands by your chair and desk to use where time allows.
  • Take the stairs rather than the lift.
  • Go the long way around to the photo copier, toilet, printer etc.
  • Place a laptop on a box etc to work standing, if you don’t have a standing work station.
  • Take a walk break every time you take a coffee/ tea or lunch break.
  • Walk to a co-worker’s desk instead of emailing or phoning them.
  • Eat your lunch away from your desk.
  • Where possible get some fresh air.


By following these simple tips regularly throughout the working day, you can reduce the risk of injury and disease by up to 85%. If, however, you do have pain or discomfort which you believe is as a result of bad work habits a Physiotherapist is an excellent person to see to give you advice on how to reduce your pain and not allow it to return.


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