On Your Feet Britain

On April 24th 2015 (29 April 2016) the Get Britain Standing campaign in association with the British Heart Foundation is challenging British workers to sit less and move around at work more whilst raising money for heart research. Studies have shown that even those who are active at some times in the day can still damage their long term health by sitting for prolonged periods during the day.

This means that the daily jog to work may have benefits on one level but if you then sit without moving for hours at a time you are in danger of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes or even some cancers.

Released in connection with the challenge, a survey of office workers revealed that 45% of women and 37% of men spend less than 30 minutes a day on their feet at work and that more than half regularly eat lunch at their desk. Apparently sitting for long periods affects the way in which the body controls areas such as sugar levels, blood pressure and the breakdown of fat so the challenge is on to regularly stand up and walk around.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that work will suffer as we look to our health. Suggestions from the On Your Feet team include standing up to take phone calls, walking to a colleague’s desk instead of phoning or e-mailing them and having standing or walking meetings.

Having said that, there are some professions in which having the chance to sit down for a few moments would be welcome. For example, when health professionals are faced with a continuing parade of patients through their practice, any time spent away from treatment can easily be taken up in paperwork rather than in looking after oneself. Whether you stand up a lot and need to sit down or sit down a lot and need to stand up, taking a few minutes out every now and then can help to reduce stress levels as well as give the body a much needed change of position.

This means that anything which can be done to reduce time taken on routine paperwork is time which can be better spent, either on further treatments or on ‘me time’. Online bookings, card payments, electronic patient notes, automatic appointment reminders; the list of potential time savers goes on.

But the best thing is that not only do these measures save time, they can also help to smooth out the working day. For example appointment reminders help to reduce no-shows whilst electronic note filing saves all that time looking for misplaced records. Given the pressure that the health service is under, it is tempting to plough all of that saved time back into patient treatment.

However, in the spirit of ‘physician heal thyself’ it is important that health professionals take regular breaks in order to stretch and move around, or simply to unwind the mind. It is inevitable that over the course of the day fatigue may set in, but the more we can take time to refresh the better we will feel at the end of the day and the better and more focused treatment we are able to give to our patients.

The Get Britain Standing campaign wants is to stand up, sit less, move more. Whether we need to follow their advice or whether sitting for a few moments would be a blessing; the important thing is that the campaign makes us think more about how we approach our working day.