The average adult German now spends 7.5 hours sitting a day at the work desk, home computer, the television or in the car, according to a new study. For young adults, the figure rises to 9 hours.
"We've become a chairbound nation ," says Clemens Muth, chairman of the DKV health insurance company that surveyed 3,000 adults about their mobility. "Prolonged sitting has far-reaching consequences for the metabolization of fat and blood sugar and induces illness in people."
Three hundred parents were also asked about their use of media and the behaviour of their 6 to 12-year-old children.
The responses showed that younger children are already accustomed to an unnaturally sedentary daily routine. Only a quarter now spend less than the recommended time in front of a computer screen, 70 percent have a television in their bedroom, and half have internet access.
"We've established that every second child does not move enough," adds Muth. "Children are virtually growing up while sitting down and copy the unhealthy lifestyle of their parents."
But only thirty percent of parents are convinced that schools are doing enough to ensure adequate physical movement of pupils.
The sheer volume of cyclists on German streets, as one example, would seem to signal a good level of healthy mobility. But sport also doesn't fully compensate for hours spent seated, warns Professor Gerhard Hubert of Heidelberg University's Institute for Sport and Sports Science.
Any longer than eight hours a day long-term and a person is inviting potentially severe consequences for their health – even if they work out afterwards.
The same institute is also advising employers to look at new ways of keeping their workforce active, like stand-up instead of seated meetings, adjustable workstations and active office breaks.
The World Health Organization recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate physical exercise a week, or 75 minutes of intensive exercise if you are pushed for time.
Meanwhile, including other key health issues like nutrition, smoking, alcohol intake and stress, only 11 percent of Germans met the advised health parameters, the DKV survey showed.
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