Sitting is the new smoking

It can be easy to underestimate how much time most of us spend sitting down. For many of us a typical day can consist of sitting on the bus into work, sitting in front of a computer during work, and then sitting on a sofa streaming a boxset after work.

Studies have linked excessive sitting with being overweight and obese, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and premature death.

Prolonged sitting is thought to slow the metabolism, which affects the body's ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down body fat.

Tips to reduce sitting time include:

  • stand on the train or bus
  • take the stairs and walk up escalators
  • set a reminder to get up every 30 minutes

If you already have back, shoulder or knee pain, it’s important to be as active as possible as this will help your joints recover mobility.

Clare Swatman, a 39-year-old mother of three from Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, has been seeing an osteopath for her bad back. ‘I spent years working for a magazine, and it was such a busy job I’d spend hours at my desk, battling with a stiff back. I used to crawl out of the office in agony.’

She also does hour-long bootcamp sessions twice a week. ‘I was in a lot of pain and felt very stiff but my osteopath said it would be all right and the camp leader knows my history. Since doing core strengthening exercises, my back feels much better.’

Meanwhile, Kate Lurie has found that after eight physiotherapy sessions to massage and manipulate her spine, and a regular exercise programme at home to stretch her shoulders and neck, she also feels much better.

‘I can’t rewrite the past but I don’t want to go through that pain again,’ she says. ‘Every time I slouch at my desk I remind myself of the agony and I straighten myself up immediately.’