Are you an active couch potato?

Active couch potato

By Tom Bosna – Managing Director

It is no secret, sitting for prolonged periods is NOT good for us.

With phrases like “sitting is the new smoking” being used in the media of late it is important to really understand the key issues and be able to make informed decisions about how to look after ourselves in the workplace.

In 2015, I wrote a small article 3 easy ways to create movement opportunities at work. At that point in time the research from the University of Queensland showed that even when Adults met the recommended physical activity guidelines, the effects of this have been negated by the amount of time sitting per day. In other words, if you enjoy a High Intensity Training (HIT)  session three times a week at the gym but go back to work and sit like a desk jockey for the remaining 40 hours of the week you are potentially sitting in the active couch potato seat and are not capitalising on incidental movement opportunities in the workplace.

In 2018, the research continues to show sedentary behaviours are strongly linked to negative health outcomes such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular, metabolic risks and premature death. The fact that all of the above are preventable is what is really concerning to me!

Based on my research and key learnings from the WELL Building standards study & Movement concept advisory I recommend three easy solutions to avoiding becoming an active couch potato.

Workplace Design

The future of work, is technology enabled, hyper connected and agile in design. Gone are the days where you sit in the same desk every day and sit in meetings all day.

Modern workplaces are designed for movement. Please assess your workplace now with four check-points.

  1. Is your locker, printer & meeting rooms all a walk from where you spend the majority of the day?
  2. Does the workplace have a wellness or fitness centre with exclusive deals for staff?
  3. Are standing desks or active workstations available in break out areas?

If you said yes to all of the above – you are in a well workplace. The key question is are you making the most of the design?

Plan your work, work your plan

As an astute observer of human behaviour and neuroscience enthusiast, it really bothers me when I see people walking with their phones glued to their hand in the early morning. I can see the phone lighting up like a Christmas tree with rapid push notifications jumping out of the screen. When you observe this happening it really looks like a wave of anxiety and I worry for the person’s brain and performance.

To address getting past this roadblock I believe planning your work, working your plan is essential.

The modern workplace is structured to work agile and leveraging technology apps such as slack and yammer. Being disciplined with your time and day is essential and blocking time for movement and exercise  is critical.

Movement is great for your performance, mental health and resilience. If it was a pill everyone would be doing it!

At Pinnacle Health Group, our teams utilise the walking meeting, pilates hour or exercise club to keep performance and morale high. This type of team activity is planned and organised to get the teams together once a week.

For anyone interested in learning the neuroscience at work I’d highly recommend the book titled “Your brain at work” by David Rock. It is for those of you who are interested in surviving and thriving in the modern workplace.

You have to take the stairs

A wise person once said, there is no elevator to success – you have to take the stairs. You will see it every morning, there are people who take the escalator and those that take the stairs.

Choose the latter every time and this will improve your incidental movement output significantly.

In the modern workplace and cities of the future, active exterior design is critical to influencing physical engagement levels of the community. A nice practical resource on this topic is the walk score.


Movement is medicine for the mind and body with tangible returns on investment!

We spend 90% of our time indoors and one third of our lives at work. The great opportunity here is incidental movement. – make the most of your time by taking the stairs & working your plan.

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