Sit less, move more

Sit less and move more the key to working from home

With many people now able to work from home more often, New Zealanders are sitting more and moving less.
WFH might just be putting many of us at greater risk of heart disease.

Truth is we are all sitting more these days.

Working from home might give some people more flexibility and time for physical activity, for others it can mean the opposite.

Working from home may mean missing any physical activity linked to your commute, or walking round the office, using stairs, ducking out of the building for a coffee or break at lunchtime.

“For many industries working from home is more common in the COVID-19 era and it’s likely to have a big impact on the amount we are moving during the day, which is affecting our health,” says NZ Heart Foundation advisor, Dave Monro.

“The evidence and the impact of too much sitting and not enough physical activity is clear,” Dave says.

“People who sat the most had a risk of heart disease

that was nearly 30% greater than those who sat the least.”

Physical activity is not only good for your heart, it helps to clear the mind and is positive for mental health too.

Any moving can be good moving

The Heart Foundation’s latest advice is to reduce and limit long periods of sitting and to incorporate any type of movement during the day to reduce the risk of heart disease.

If you’re working from home, use it as an opportunity to build more physical activity in your day.

The latest evidence tells us that doing small amounts of physical activity throughout the day can provide the same benefits as a longer session.

Current guidelines recommend accumulating at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of physical activity that makes it harder for you to breathe than normal but still capable of talking, with greater heart health benefits the more we do.

Dave Monro says any type and amount of exercise or physical activity is better than none, and we can all help our hearts by breaking up long periods of sitting whether it’s at a computer, in a vehicle or watching TV.

“The big take home message is to sit less and move more.”

The trick is to build in short bursts of physical activity – a walk to the letterbox, stretching, anything to get up out of that chair and moving, even a little.

When you go into work, taking the stairs, parking a bit further away, chatting to a colleague instead of sending an email, and walking to or standing at meetings will all help too.

The latest New Zealand Health Survey shows that around one in eight adults (12.5%) do less than 30 minutes of physical activity across the week.

Dave has the last word: “We’re saying whether you’re at home or work, move your body, get off your chair, anything you do during the day counts and is better for your heart health than doing nothing.”

Heart Foundation tips to sit less and move more when working at home:

♦  Stand up and stretch throughout the day, i.e. 2 minutes of stretching every hour.

♦  Find an online workout or yoga class to do during your lunch break.

♦  Schedule short bursts of physical activity into your day (either before, during or after work).

♦  Take phone or video calls while standing with headphones on.

♦  Set a daily or weekly goal for physical activity and celebrate small wins as you go.