Sitting down for too long may be causing 70,000 UK deaths a year – The Guardian, 26 March 2019, Nicola Davis
The Death Sit
“Sitting or lying down for long periods during the day is not only bad for your health it could be the cause of almost 70,000 deaths and cost the NHS at least £700m a year, new research has revealed.
Scientists have previously flagged that sedentary behaviour increases the risk of a number of diseases as well as a premature death.
Now experts have looked into the financial burden of sedentary behaviour in the UK, revealing that sitting or lying down for at least six hours a day is behind £424m of spending on cardiovascular disease, £281m on type-2 diabetes and £30m on colon cancer alone.”
Through the WI lens
It’s long been recognised that sedentary lifestyles are generally unhealthy. What the study featured in this article does is to put some numbers on the issue. It describes how a team at Queen’s University Belfast pulled together NHS spending data on a range of diseases – including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and endometrial, colon and lung cancers – and combined this with evidence from previous studies on the propensity for sedentary lifestyles to lead to each of these conditions. After crunching the numbers, it came out with costs, and human costs, attached to sitting in the same place for too long. The good news is that getting up and moving around is good for you; less welcome is that you need to spend a considerable proportion of your time mobile to make a significant difference. As this health risk is increasingly recognised we are going to see a growing market for products that encourage people to spend less time inert in their workplace. That could be apps that make you get up and exercise; it could be ergonomic workstations that allow you to walk and work in sync. Staying still will no longer be an option.
What this article goes on to explain is how positive thinking – described here as ‘thriving’ – can counter the effects that come from the negativity outlined above, from reduced memory to diminished performance. Based on studying people in a series of organisations in different industries, one of the authors has found that people who attain this state are more resilient, experience less burnout, and are more confident in their ability to take control of a situation
“Behind the jargon what this is really about is how we address the challenge of biodiversity under threat, move away from fossil materials like plastic and concrete, and use nature in a sustainable way, all of which could be summed up by “living in harmony with nature”.”
“In the new ‘consensual contract’ between employer and worker, what’s required is a commitment from the employer to safeguard the wellbeing of their people, and a commitment in return from employees to take personal responsibility for their performance of their job.”
“Could loneliness not only be damaging our mental and physical health but also be making the world a more aggressive, angry place? And if so, what are the implications for a cohesive society and democracy?”
“On such fragile foundations are built the first steps towards a more ethical kind of business, and who knows what virtuous circles might result?”
“Scientific evidence recently emerged that, contrary to earlier beliefs, Covid-19 can be spread by tiny droplets that we breathe out when we respire, called aerosols.”
“Economic wellbeing is part of the story, but it is also about finding less stressful lifestyles, in which healthy diet figures as a meaningful measure of success.”
“The industry has every asset needed to be a guiding light in the shift toward personal health priority. Will that become a prevention legacy, a ‘phoenix rising’ from the Covid-19 ashes?”
“Looking at the bigger picture, putting the measures in this order represents a lost opportunity that the pandemic could have offered for a cultural pivot pivot towards getting people more focused on their health, a powerful statement of intent.”
“Employment is necessary to fulfil our most basic human needs such as food and shelter. Any significant increase in long-term unemployment will spell a retrograde step for human wellbeing like no other.”