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Doctors prescribe no more sitting on the job

LUNCHTIME: Munching away at your desk? A prescription could put a stop to that, with research suggesting doctors should be able to limit the amount office workers sit down during the day.
LUNCHTIME: Munching away at your desk? A prescription could put a stop to that, with research suggesting doctors should be able to limit the amount office workers sit down during the day. Submitted

DOCTORS should be prescribing overweight and unhealthy Ipswich office workers ways to get away from their chairs at work, new research has argued.

The research, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, argues excessive sitting is as dangerous for workers at risk of a heart attack as heavy lifting is for employees with a bad back.

Professor Leon Straker and Dr Genevieve Healy, the authors behind the paper, said too many hours spent in office chairs had been linked to a shorter life span, obesity, cancer and type 2 diabetes.

It's a problem Ipswich doctors and workers are urged to listen to, with the region recording higher than average rates of obesity, circulatory diseases and type 2 diabetes.

Statistics compiled by the West Moreton and Oxley Medicare Local region show 17 people out of every 100 residents in the region have a circulatory disease, higher than Queensland and Australia's rate of 16 out of 100 people.

Out of every 100 residents in Ipswich, 21 are obese - compared to 18 out of 100 for Australia and 19 out of 100 for Queensland.

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Ipswich doctors are now being encouraged to routinely ask their patients how much they're sitting down at work and prescribe ways to prevent it.

One organisation already combating the health risks of sedentary office workplaces is the Ipswich City Council.

Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale said the council actively encouraged staff to plan short breaks and changes in their activity.

"This might include allowing hand and arm muscles to recover from repetitive work and standing to relieve the body of prolonged sitting," he said.

Council workers are encouraged to take short frequent breaks rather than longer, less frequent ones.

Professor Straker and Dr Healy's research suggests office workers sit down for more than 75% of the working day, often for more than 30 minutes at a time, making excessive sitting a bigger problem than previously thought.

They said prescriptions could include measures such as regular breaks and standing meetings.

Are you sitting down too much at work? Head to facebook.com/thequeenslandtimes to tell us how you keep healthy in the office.

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Topics:  medical journal of australia



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