Wednesday 30 September 2015

Are you at risk from sitting too much?

Sitting too long can be bad for your health.  Recent work in the UK, captured in the 'Get Britain Standing' website suggests that sitting over 4 hours a day leads to:

  • Enzymes responsible for burning harmful blood fats shutting down
  • Reduced calorie burning (Metabolic rate)
  • Disrupted blood sugar levels
  • Increased insulin and blood pressure levels
  • Leg muscles switch off

A web-based calculator is provided where you can calculate the time you spend sitting and your risk level. A snapshot of the calculator is shown below. 

However in addressing health risk associated with sedentary lifestyles, guidance on the site suggests that there is a tendency to overdo exercise and go from a 'Reverse' gear, or very sedentary activity levels to รก 'Third' or 'Fourth' gear involving running or other strenuous activity. 

This leads to stalling as the activity cannot be maintained and sedentary habits are re-established. Instead, the guidance suggests a slow, gear-by-gear, increase in activity such as more standing and walking before leading to activities like running, once there is better fitness. A snapshot of the R, and 1, 2, 3 and 4th gear levels of activity is shown below. 

There are obvious implications for the design and management of work environments and a range of interesting measures to reduce sitting could be explored:  

  • Progressive discomfort: Should seats become progressively less comfortable after a set period of time, encouraging sitters to get up? 
  • Standing workstations: Should offices be provided with standing, as well as sitting, work-stations? 
  • Walking meetings: Instead of boardrooms and meeting rooms, should walking routes be provided for meetings?

Characteristics of healthy workspaces will be included in the Sustainable Building Assessment Tool (SBAT) Working tool, which is being developed for work environments.. 

More information

Friday 25 September 2015

Assessing and Intervening: Urban Resilience Indicators

Urban resilience can be defined as the capacity of a city or urban area to cope with future shocks and change. There has been an increasing interest in this concept as a result of a sense of risk associated with climate change, economic downturn, social unrest and environmental disasters.

Systems with increased resilience, it is argued, enable cities to withstand shocks from man-made and natural disasters. A focus on resilience and the resulting strengthening of the self-organisation capacity of urban systems is also seen as a means of improving the sustainability of cities.

 The Assessing and Intervening: Urban Resilience Indicators report reviews concepts of resilience in order to determine key characteristics of the field and how these may be applied to and measured in, urban environments. Urban resilience indicator systems, tools and related literature are surveyed to understand the current debates within the field and to identify gaps and uncertainties.

The report reveals that there are different understandings of urban resilience and divergent views on how this concept should be applied and measured. An analysis of approaches is used to classify, and describe, competing urban resilience theories as well as their associated intervention strategies and indicators systems.

Within this framework the report charts potential future research areas that could strengthen the theoretical basis of the urban resilience field as well as its practical application through indicators and indicator systems, as means of improving the resilience of cities and urban areas.

 Access the report here