Is sitting the new smoking? with Duncan Young - Happy + Well : Happy + Well

Is sitting the new smoking? with Duncan Young

Written by on April 3, 2016 in Wellness, Work with 0 Comments


“We need a vision and we need a framework for workplaces. We want you to leave healthier than when you came in,” Duncan Young says.

“We’ve all got our own health journeys,” he says. The main thing is that we want to move forward each day and do something that we haven’t done before.

Some of the major trends of today include an increase in obesity, mental illness and poor sleep patterns. Duncan says this may be related to sedentary behaviour.

Studies show that movement helps people be more creative – people taking walking meetings come up with better ideas than those who sit during meetings.

“We already know what lack of movement means,” Duncan says. He used to think that riding his bike to work, sitting for 8-10 hours a day and riding home would lead to a long life, but what we actually need is movement throughout the day.

The work we do today is more likely to be computerised – leaving us sitting for prolonged periods. “If you sit for more than 7 hours a day, compared to people who sit for less than 4 hours a day, you have a 37% higher chance of early death.

“The more we know about our own activity, the more we can make changes,” Duncan says. His vision for the future involves sit-stand desks, standing or walking meetings, taking the stairs instead of the lifts, drinking more water so you get up from your desk more often to use the bathrooms. “If you eat lunch away from your desk, you’ll have a heart age one year younger than the person who eats at their desk.”

Duncan asks what the ideal day looks like. “Make sure you take adequate breaks during the day and get adequate nourishment.” He says we need to think about all the incidental movement we can do during the week.

We also need to develop friendships at work. If you have a best friend at work, you’re much more likely to be engaged. We also need time for restoration. “Everyone feels better after a good night’s sleep.”

Duncan Young, Head of Workplace Health & Wellbeing, User Experience, Lendlease presented this at Happiness & Its Causes 2016.

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