Let’s move to a new beat: Increasing physical activity and reducing sitting time at work

“Sitting is the new smoking”

Physical activity, or rather physical inactivity, in the workplace has received a lot of attention over the past few months. A report by the Conference Board of Canada has started a new wave of concern around low activity in Canadians. This report is responsible for the catchy new saying, “sitting is the new smoking”. What does this mean? We all know of the adverse effects smoking can have on our health, and due to lots of campaigning by public health and legislation smoking rates have decreased. That is great! However, while this will have a positive effect in terms of population health, there is a new and growing threat. Despite being born to move, physical inactivity has increased and Canadians are spending more of their time being sedentary. Only 15% of Canadian adults meet the physical activity guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week. We know this 150min helps improve our fitness and provides the greatest health benefits. However, more research is showing it is not enough just to meet these guidelines. It is also important to try and move more often and minimize the amount of time we spend sitting. In fact, the average Canadian adult now spends 69% of their waking hours (about 9.5 hours per day) being sedentary. Reducing the amount of sedentary time, even by increasing standing and walking throughout our day, can reduce risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and early death.

Benefits of physical activity:

  • Reduced risk of Chronic diseases:
  • Reducing the amount of sedentary behavior can lower the number of new cases of: high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer

Reviews of current research have shown that physical activity can help prevent diabetes, cancer, blood pressure, obesity, depression, and osteoporosis, among various other conditions. The more active you are the greater health benefits you will see. (Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence, 2006)

  • Improved blood sugar control, for individuals with diabetes
  • Increased alertness, and productivity while at work
  • Physical activity releases endorphins, which make you feel great!


Let’s make our day harder Dr. Mike Evans:

Increasing activity in our workday:

  • Note: If you have any pre-existing health conditions, check with your doctor before increasing your physical activity.
  • Become an advocate for increasing activity at your workplace. Start a workplace walking group at lunchtime, or an intramurals soccer team. Check and see if a local gym will let you rent their gym at lunchtime.
  • Walk up and down the stairs for a 10 minute break
  • Run errands during your breaks, to incorporate activity into your day
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Stand up to talk on the phone


My Challenge for this week:_____________________________________________


  1. This week, I will take the stairs instead of the elevator

Remember; keep it SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely)