How much time have you been spending sitting either in the office in front of a computer screen or veging in front of the TV in the last 24 hours?

Chances are that it is close to nine hours, which is the time the average Australian spends sitting and that’s on top of time in bed.

So how does it contribute to your waistline? It’s a simple equation- consume more energy than the energy that you expend and you are likely to put on weight.

What’s more, a new study by the School of Population Health in Queensland has confirmed previous American research that sitting down stops fat burn.

Or scientifically put, the enzymes responsible for breaking down fat are suppressed when sitting instead of standing.

But I go to the gym!

According to the research, this won’t exactly offset the other 90 percent of the time you spend sedentary.

Both the Queensland and American study found that even those who exercise regularly have a higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome the more time they spend in front of the TV or computer.

(Metabolic syndrome is the presence of three or more of the following symptoms: increased waist circumference, high blood sugar levels, high triglyceride levels (fat levels in blood), low HDL cholesterol, and high blood pressure).

This is also a major risk factor for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The good news is that gently walking around the office or standing while talking on the phone may help.

The QLD study found that regardless of sedentary time or how long participants spent exercising, those who took more breaks from sitting had lower BMIs (body mass index), lower triglyceride levels and lower blood sugar levels.

Watch out for eating while at your desk or watching TV

A study from the British Journal of Nutrition reported that multi-tasking whilst eating actually distracts you from recognising signs of fullness, so you’re more likely to under or over eat.

This is not good news as you will most likely feel sluggish afterwards and be more likely to reach for the biscuit tin later in the afternoon. And that’s not all.

Eating at the desk at during your lunch break instead of taking a walk in the sunshine may contribute to low Vitamin D levels.

You need at least 15 minutes of sunshine everyday to keep up your vitamin D levels, which is not only important for calcium absorption but helps to improve your mood.

Revenge of the Cookie Monster

When you are surrounded by biscuits and vending machines at work, it is all too easy to adopt a junkfood habit!

Combat this by keeping healthy snacks like nuts, airpopped popcorn or fruit at your desk.

Deadline Cruncher

Constantly stressing at work? Sustained stress can increase your fight or flight hormone cortisol, which stimulates fat and carbohydrate metabolism for fast energy, and stimulates insulin release.

The end result of these actions can be an increase in appetite, which may explain partly why you crave a doughnut or chips as deadlines draw near.

Some studies have shown that elevated cortisol can cause abdominal fat deposition, which is highly correlated with diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Alternatively some may skip meals when busy, which doesn’t help because they may end up getting overly hungry afterwards and eat whatever they can find.

So next time you are majorly stressed, try relieving it with a brief walk, fresh air, or meditation.


Here’s another excuse not to stay back late: Not only is it a recipe for sedentary activity but overtime puts you at a higher risk for developing anxiety and depression suggests a 2008 study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.


  • Get up every hour from your computer/TV every 20 minutes and take a stretch or walk around.
  • Stand while you read or talk on the phone for some of the time.
  • Walk to a colleague’s desk instead of emailing.
  • Eat mindfully instead of whilst working/watching TV.
  • Invest in a pedometer and aim for at least 7,000 steps per day (10,000 is ideal). Try parking your car further from work to increase activity.
  • Take a walk during your work break or try and squeeze in a workout.