Take a Stand

You may have heard sitting is bad for your health, but does that mean we should stand all day instead?

If you’re an average office worker, then you’re probably spending over six hours a day sitting at work. Studies tell us that prolonged sitting may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke, even if you’re a keen exerciser. Sitting without breaks can also lead to a sore and stiff neck, shoulders and back.

But standing all day can be hard on your body too, and a combination of sitting and standing seems to bring the most benefits. In 2015, the British Journal of Sports Medicine published a review of the scientific evidence on how to best address sedentary behaviour in the office. They recommended ‘accumulating at least two hours per day of standing and light activity (such as light walking) during working hours.’

The sit-stand desk

One popular solution to the increasing sedentary nature of our jobs is the sit-stand desk, which allows you to move between sitting and standing while at work. But how do you use these to ensure you get the recommended two hours of standing or light activity?

The answer, according to Alan Hedge, Cornell University ergonomist, is the Sit-Stand-Stretch or 20-8-2 regimen. The involves, for every 30 minutes of your workday:

  • 20 minutes of sitting (in good posture)
  • 8 minutes of standing, and
  • 2 minutes standing and moving.

For an average workday of seven and half hours, standing for two hours and moving for 30 minutes.

Tomato time

Even if you don’t have access to a standing desk you can still take regular breaks from sitting. One way to do this is to work in 25-minute bursts, after which you stand up and take a five-minute break. This is also known as the Pomodoro Technique, so named because the bursts of time can be measured using little tomato-shaped kitchen timers – Pomodoro is Italian for tomato.

Use your five-minute break to move your body – perhaps walking to the kitchen to refill your water glass or grab a tea or coffee, or doing some simple neck, shoulder and back stretches.

If you don’t have a tomato timer, there are plenty of apps online that can keep track of your sessions.

How to Spot a Heart Attack

Heart disease is responsible for the most deaths worldwide for both men and women of all races. Heart attacks and strokes make up the majority of this group. The symptoms of a heart attack are not always obvious and can differ between men and women.

Women don’t expect to have a heart attack. Even though men are twice as likely to have a heart attack, heart disease remains the second leading cause of death for women.

A heart attack occurs when blood supply to the heart becomes blocked, reducing the amount of oxygen getting to the heart muscle. This can lead to permanent heart damage.


Warning signs of a heart attack

We’re familiar with the classic Hollywood heart attack of a man clutching at his chest and falling to the floor. The reality can be quite different. Heart attack symptoms are not always sudden or severe, can start slowly with only mild pain or discomfort, and may be different for men and women.

The most common symptoms, for both men and women, are sudden central chest pain or discomfort in the chest that doesn’t go away. It can feel like pressure, tightness or squeezing.

You can also experience symptoms you may not expect, such as:

·       pain radiating down the left or both arms

·       dizziness and/or nausea

·       pain in the jaw, back, neck or shoulders

·       stomach pain or reflux (burning feeling in the throat)

·       fatigue

Research shows that men and women can have different heart attack symptoms. The Australian Heart Foundation says that just over half of women who have a heart attack experience chest pain. Many other women will only experience non-typical symptoms like breathlessness, nausea and arm or jaw pain.

The American Heart Association agrees. According to their 2016 statement published in the journal Circulation, women can report shortness of breath, muscle weakness and fatigue, anxiety, loss of appetite, and profuse, cold sweating.

Women are more likely to put down their symptoms to less life-threatening conditions like acid reflux, the flu or normal ageing and as a consequence will take longer to reach a hospital and get treatment.

By knowing the warning signs and acting quickly you can reduce the damage to your heart muscle and increase your chance of survival. If you experience any symptoms you suspect might be a heart attack, stop, rest and call emergency services.