Get away from office desk for better health

Desk-bound workers need to get up and move more, scientists say today.

Too much sitting is bad for you but the ill-effects can be mitigated by taking frequent breaks to stretch your legs, research has shown.

People who spend long periods sitting down have larger waists and poorer heart health, even if they spend some time taking exercise.

But a study of 4,700 workers in the US found that among those who spent a long time sitting down, the more breaks they took, even just for one minute, the smaller their waists and the better their heart health.

Some workers took 10 times as many breaks as others. The least number of breaks over seven days was 99 and the most 1,258. The increase in sedentary lifestyles has led to soaring rates of obesity and conditions such as diabetes.

Genevieve Healy, of the University of Queensland, Australia, who led the study, published in the European Heart Journal, said: "Our research showed that even small changes, which could be as little as standing up for one minute, might help to lower this health risk. 'Stand up, move more, more often', could be used as a slogan to get the message across."

Dr Healy recommends standing up to take calls, walking to see a colleague rather than telephoning or emailing, having standing meetings, centralising rubbish bins and printers so workers need to walk to them, going to the lavatory on a different level and using the stairs instead of the lift.