Lockdown “disastrous” for health of UK’s working population

Apr 28, 2021

Active Working

Levels of dangerous office sitting time have doubled under lockdown, with around half of UK workers spending almost their whole day sitting down, according to Active Working’s latest Annual Sitting Survey®.  

Some 47% of us spend practically the entirety of our working day (seven hours or longer)  seated – up from just 26% pre-pandemic.  

The shocking poll results are released in the run-up to On Your Feet Britain on Thursday 29 April, an annual day of activity when we can all highlight simple simple activities and changes to help break the harmful “binge sitting” habit! 

Further survey results include: 

  • 66% of us admit that workday sitting time has increased during lockdown
  • Women spend more time sitting than men: 51% of females said they spent seven or  more working hours seated compared with 41% of male respondents 
  • Prolonged sedentary behaviour is more of a problem in the public sector than the  private sector: 51% of public sector staff said they daily spend more than 90 minutes  at a time seated, compared with 39% among their public sector counterparts. 

On Your Feet Britain is backed by Former England Sevens Rugby Captain Rob  Vickerman, who says:

“An increase in inactivity due to lockdown has been disastrous  for the nation’s health. Working from home means we have lost the incidental  exercise of walking to the station or bus stop. This has a direct impact on an  employee’s mental health and physical health and we need to focus on bringing more  activity to those working from home.”

“Failing to move regularly throughout the day puts us at higher risk of physical and mental  health problems. That’s why I will be taking part in On Your Feet Britain and encouraging the  nation to #SitLess and #MoveMore.” 

Gavin Bradley, Founder of Active Working CIC, says:

“Covid-19 has decimated  activity levels among desk-based employees. I urge workers across the nation to  literally ‘rise up to the challenge’ and make a conscious effort to break up their sitting  time. Research shows that simple measures like standing for phone calls, taking  stretching breaks during real or virtual meetings or starting the day with a brisk 15- minute stroll will benefit both your health and productivity.”

Spending long periods seated at a desk is proven to damage your health, contributing to  conditions including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, joint issues, back problems and  even certain cancers. Study after study makes it clear: #SitLess #MoveMore is the key to good physical and mental health.  

There is cause of optimism, however. This year’s Annual Sitting Survey® reveals that a  surprising 90% of staff believe their employer cares about their health. The number of people  saying their boss cares about their health ‘very much’ has doubled since last year’s Annual  Sitting Survey ® (rising to 30% from only16% in 2020). 

Vickerman, who supports businesses to improve health and wellbeing through his  organisation, adds:

“Employers seem to be getting the message that  their staff need to be enabled to be more active in the workplace, which is good news,  but binge sitting has become a national bad habit. Workers themselves need to get  out of their seats and onto their feet for the good of their health.”

Public Health England advises that we should minimise sedentary time, spending more  time on our feet, less time seated. International health bodies including the World Health  Organization agree.  


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