Sitting too much while working from home? Canadian study aims to get people moving

LONDON, ONT — The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the home into a work place for many Canadians, but is it a healthy work place?

“We wanted to be able to see what actually is happening at home and since 40 per cent of Canadians are working from home, it’s important to adjust and look into these sitting behaviours,” says Madison Hiemstra, kinesiology masters student at Western University in London, Ont.

In fact, sitting for long periods of time, especially when working can be more detrimental to your health than you may think.

“Short term is that muscle stiffness and soreness that people get from sitting in the same posture all day,” says Kirsten Dillon, doctoral kinesiology student at Western.

“Long term detrimental effects there’s increased risk of multiple types of cancer and diabetes, cardiovascular disease as well as increased cause of premature death,” says Hiemstra, who adds the additional concern is with more people working from home there are less places to move compared to the office.

“We are interrupting our sitting throughout the day a little more because some people walk into the office or go for a coffee break with a colleague or go for a lunch walk.”

That’s why the team launched a study that will examine sitting behaviours of people working from home.

About 140 people are being recruited for the study and there are still spaces for those who want to take part. Requirements are you have to be working from home 50 per cent of the time, five days a week.

“We mail you via a courier a little device that goes onto your mid-thigh, you wear it for 5 full work days,” says Dillon.

The device called the ActivPAL will track a participant’s movement before interventions and after.

The ultimate goal is to be able to release data on healthy working lifestyles.

“We wanted to be able to at least provide people the opportunity to break up their sitting throughout the day,” says Hiemstra. “We want to protect them from those detrimental effects that come from prolonged sitting throughout the day.”

Anyone interested in taking part can contact Kirsten Dillon at kdillon9@uwo.ca


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