The negative effects of sitting can be easily reduced by avoiding sedentary and stationary time whenever possible, travelling from place to place standing up, walking or cycling, and trying to change posture during the day. It is important for adults to set an example, because the negative effects of sitting should be prevented as early as during childhood. These statements are included in the national recommendations to reduce sedentary time published by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health on 17 June 2015.
The publication provides practical advice on how to cut down on sitting for individuals of different ages, daycare centres, schools, workplaces, and older people’s home care and sheltered housing services. Education, health and social services staff play a key role in encouraging people to make active choices.
In addition to changing people’s own everyday lives, changes need to be made in society as a whole.
More attention should be paid to solutions that increase everyday activity in urban planning and construction, design of play, learning and work environments, and professional training provided in different fields. Developing activity-promoting television programmes and games, for example, would also have an impact.
Finnish adults spend more than three quarters of their waking hours sitting, lying down or standing still, while children and young people are not far behind. Sitting is especially harmful to the musculoskeletal system and the heart and circulation. People who spend a lot of time sitting down tend to put on excess weight and commonly suffer from sleep and glucose metabolism disorders.
Even regular leisure-time exercise will not prevent the health risks of excessive daily sitting. The recommendations highlight the fact that cutting down on sedentary time requires cross-administrative cooperation and decisions that promote people’s physical activity. It is necessary to create a physically active organisational culture for daycare centres, schools, workplaces and institutions.
National recommendations to reduce sedentary time issued by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health