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As more Australians become restricted to their homes under COVID-19, our Head of Physical Activity Professor David Dunstan is encouraging people to be conscious of their couch time and to think about standing up and moving more often.

Professor Dunstan has spent his career investigating the health impacts of sedentary behaviour.

Higher levels of sedentary behaviour are linked with increased risk of diabetes, certain cancers, heart disease and early death, this is most evident in people who are also physically inactive.

Some of Professor Dunstan’s most recent research also points to an impact on mental wellbeing.

But his work shows that breaking-up sedentary time — frequent transitions from sitting to standing and preferably, moving — has beneficial associations with health outcomes, independent of how long you spend sitting overall.

It shows the best way to beat the negative effects of sedentary behaviour is to stand up and move after every 30 minutes of sitting.

This can be as simple as just standing up from the chair or couch, but ideally might involve simple resistance activities like half squats, arm or back stretches, or a brief walk – even just a few steps.

Professor Dunstan’s tips for breaking up sitting time:

  • Get up during TV ad breaks or set reminders while working at the computer to do some brief exercises to get the muscles moving. A good guide is to break up sitting time every half hour.
  • Keeping in touch with loved ones is important at this time. Try standing up and walking around the house while talking to friends or family on the phone.
  • Swap some mentally passive sedentary activities with more mentally active ones, these are better for your mental health. Try reading or playing a game, instead of just watching TV.
  • Do household tasks such as cooking, ironing or cleaning while watching TV so it isn’t always sedentary and requires some cognitive engagement.
  • Make a conscious effort to incorporate exercise into your day to break up large amounts of sedentary activities.

We have prepared some at-home work out plans which are suitable for all different fitness levels.

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