95% of office workers in Singapore engage in prolonged sitting, a sedentary behaviour known to be associated with a myriad of health problems, such as an increased risk in type II diabetes, heart disease, obesity and even premature death. Despite this, 56% of office workers do not take regular breaks while sitting. This is worrying, considering that 67% are also unaware of the health risks associated with prolonged sitting.
These were the findings from a survey conducted by four undergraduate students – Chong Cai Yun, Lim Jia Qi Fiona, Tanya Pillay and Teo Ying En – from Nanyang Technological University’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, as part of the Get Your Bottoms Up! campaign. The survey was conducted from October to December 2015 among 162 office workers in Singapore, ranging from 21 to 62 years old.
Their worrying findings follow a recent report on how the increasing rate of obesity among youths is set to worsen the diabetes rate in Singapore. According to a 2015 review study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the amount of time a person sits during the day is positively associated with a higher risk of type II diabetes, heart disease, and even death – regardless of regular exercise.
“Prolonged sitting is fast becoming the major reason for the corporate pain problem,” said Dr. Gary Tho, chiropractor and author of the book The Pain-Free Desk Warrior. “Sitting is a public-health risk and exercising doesn’t offset it… sitting too much is not the same as exercising too little.”
Enter the Get Your Bottoms Up! campaign, the first local health initiative that aims to promote a more active working culture by empowering office workers with the skills to take active breaks while working. The final-year student team has collaborated with physiotherapists and chiropractors to come up with seven short deskercises (i.e. desk exercises) for office workers to do during their breaks.
In the pre-campaign survey, 49% of office workers also indicated that taking breaks from work is disruptive to their workflow. Get Your Bottoms Up! thus made sure to recommend deskercises that are simple and convenient to do at one’s workstation, making it easier for office workers to implement them consistently and throughout the work day.
“What office workers need to realise is that a simple 2-5 minute break can help reduce the health risks associated with prolonged sitting,” said team member Tanya, 23. “And that is what Get Your Bottoms Up! is advocating – a prevention that is easier and more achievable than a cure.”
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