2 in 3 Canadians worry they sit too much at work

Are you concerned you’re spending too much time in a chair during business hours? Well, you’re not alone.

For ParticipACTION’s fifth annual Sneak It In Week, we worked with Angus Reid to survey Canadian office workers about their physical activity habits at work, and the results are concerning.  The majority of Canadian office workers (63 per cent) are worried about the amount of time spent sitting at work. And a third (32 per cent) of respondents say they spend too much time sitting in meetings, with one in five committing at least an entire business day (8 hours) a week to meetings.

This “meeting culture” is partly to blame for keeping us glued to our seats. 

Canadians are encouraged to challenge the social norms at work, including marathon meetings, by taking active breaks, “sneaking in” 10-minute increments of physical activity, and dedicating less time to sitting.

Reducing the almost 10 hours a day that Canadian adults spend sedentary will reduce the risk of diabetes, heart attack, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol, not to mention sore backs and foggy brains.

According to our survey, Canadians are ready to make these changes!  If given the opportunity, 59 per cent of office workers said they would stretch during a meeting, 54 per cent said they would be open to a walking meeting, and 41 per cent would want to stand during a meeting if invited to do so. 

Research shows that 10-minute bouts of physical activity are an effective way to increase fitness and meet the recommended 150 minutes of heart-pumping physical activity recommended for adults per week. Workplace physical activity initiatives have also been proven to increase productivity and job performance, boost creativity, reduce turnover and improve employee satisfaction and loyalty.  Plus, nearly a third of those polled say they think better on their feet.


Scheduling a meeting? Here are five tips to change your company culture, one meeting at a time:

  • Begin the meeting by inviting the room to stand-up and/or stretch throughout the meeting—this will set the tone and ensure people feel comfortable when they feel the need
  • Encourage attendees to use existing meeting breaks for physical activity. For instance, invite them to leave the room to go for a walk or take the stairs during a coffee break
  • Sit on exercise balls or stand during the meeting, rather than sitting on chairs
  • Schedule stretching breaks during the meeting and invite someone to lead the stretch
  • If you’re scheduling a meeting with a small group, arrange for a walking meeting so that you can sneak in some exercise while you talk