Irish Heart Foundation launch Escape Your Chair challenge for Waterford workers

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Survey reveals home workers sitting for almost three hours longer per day

Fitness expert Karl Henry on the need to move regularly to counteract the negative effects of sitting down

Employers are being asked to shorten video conference meeting times as a new survey reveals more than half of those working from home estimate they are sitting down for an average of two hours and 40 minutes longer per day.

The Ipsos MRBI survey was commissioned by the Irish Heart Foundation, which is warning of the dangers of sitting down for long periods and calling on workers to move for a minute each hour during the working day.

Conducted between August 1 and 10, the survey found that more than half of all workers in Ireland have been able to work from home since restrictions began, with 53% of them sitting down for longer than when in the office or their usual place of work.

And one in four of those who are sitting for longer are remaining sedentary for at least three hours more than previously.

“Sitting at work all day can increase a person’s risk of heart disease and stroke, and it may counteract the benefits of their regular exercise,” said Irish Heart Foundation ohysical activity coordinator Tara Curran.

“As working from home and video meetings become the norm, workers are increasingly tied to their laptops for hour after hour.

“We are urging them to get up and move regularly during their working day and would like to see employers make an effort to shorten meeting times on video conferencing.”

The survey was conducted as part of the Irish Heart Foundation’s Escape Your Chair Heart Month campaign supported by the HSE, which calls on the nation to get up and move for a minute each hour during the day as a way to kick-start their daily exercise.

The charity is calling on people to take the Escape Your Chair challenge and has created a range of resources to help people move more and sit less, including an online sitting time calculator, a Deskercise video and a training guide to walk or run 5k. All of these are available at www.EscapeYourChair.ie along with expert tips on how to stay well while working from home.

Campaign ambassador and fitness expert Karl Henry emphasised the need to move regularly to counteract the negative effects of sitting down. “Workers who find themselves sitting down for longer can kick-start their daily exercise by making sure to stand up and move away from the desk for a minute each hour during the working day,” he said.

“Being physically active can release endorphins that can help relieve stress, boost mood and improve self-esteem.

“When we find ourselves in a stressful situation at work, a quick stroll can help clear our heads while also helping our hearts and reducing our sitting time.”

The charity is also calling on the public to join them on World Heart Day, September 29, by hosting a virtual or socially distant Stand Up to Heart Disease coffee morning. Funds raised will help the charity’s work in fighting cardiovascular disease in communities and schools and in providing support services to those living with heart disease and stroke.

“With Covid-19 we’re all taking important steps to protect both our own health and that of our loved ones every day,” said Sarah O’Brien, national lead for Healthy Eating Active Living with the HSE's Health and Wellbeing, which is supporting the campaign.

“Getting up and moving regularly during our working day is another important step to take and we have been encouraging everyone to keep as active as possible over the last few months.”