Sedentary behaviour: what’s the problem?

Sedentary behaviour of manOver the years the world of work has changed to represent cognitive employment in favor of careers requiring physical labor. Many of us spend a large proportion of our work day sitting down. We then travel home, sitting down or socialise (TV, theatre, drinks, dinner etc.) sitting down. Extended periods of sitting have become the norm.

So? What’s so bad about it?

According to Get Britain Standing, (a campaign aiming to raise awareness and educate against the dangers of sedentary working), when you sit the enzymes that help to break down fat (lipoprotein lipase) drop by 90% and sitting for an excess of 4 hours at work increases your risk of heart disease by 100%. Other health risks include a reduced metabolic rate, disrupted blood sugar levels, reduce insulin levels, increased hypertension (blood pressure) and decreased leg muscles use. More specifically sedentary behavior has been linked to an increased risk of heart/cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, high blood pressure, muscle degeneration, back ache/neck pain, osteoporosis, depression* and dementia*

*Denotes suggestion of indirect association not a definitive relationship.

Don’t underestimate how important being active during your day really is. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated a lack of physical activity as one of the top four leading causes of preventable death worldwide, ahead of high cholesterol, alcohol and drug abuse.

This doesn’t apply to me does it?

For those of you reading this and thinking ‘I reach &/or exceed the recommended daily/weekly exercise/activity guidelines’ that’s great and you should continue to do so. However, research has suggested that remaining seated for too long is bad for your health, regardless of how much exercise you do outside of your time spent sitting down. For example if you walk or go to the gym for 30-45 minutes but remain seated the rest of the day your lifestyle would still be described as sedentary. The associated health risks of being sedentary are not exclusive to those who appear to be overweight or obese. A slim person who is very inactive also has a higher risk of the previously mentioned conditions.

“All-day movement is now seen as being just as important for the maintenance of good health as traditional exercise.” Professor Stuart Biddle (A leading Professor of Active Living & Public Health)

Thankfully there are numerous solutions available to us to reduce our sedentary behaviours. We have always been advocates of moving more so look out for our next post which will cover a comprehensive list of simple changes anyone can make to decrease time spent sitting down each day.

Getting Glasgow City Council Staff to Move More

MM glasgow eventA few weeks ago the Move More Glasgow team joined the Glasgow City Council Health Roadshows to tell staff from Glasgow City Council about the physical activity programmes available in their area. As well as having an information stand to tell people about the Move More Glasgow programme (which offers anyone affected by cancer a menu of opportunities to become more active), a health walk was on offer around the streets of Glasgow and one of the Level 4 cancer rehab instructors led a few 15 minute taster sessions.

The staff could gather information about the services for personal use but also to pass onto family, friends, colleagues and clients. In addition to information about Move More there were also representatives from the Macmillan@Glasgow Libraries Information and Support services, Healthy Work Lives and staff could take part in other activities including getting a hand massage and having their cholesterol checked.

Overall this was a great way of telling the staff at Glasgow City Council what is available to them and their clients in Glasgow. By putting on this event it gave council members and influential others a demonstration of the fantastic programme. Events like this can gather support, volunteers and potentially funding opportunities so if it sounds like something your project could benefit from why not plan one?

The team will be joining the health roadshow on their next stop around Glasgow in a few weeks and we look forward to hearing more about how they raise the profile of the Move More Glasgow programme.

Move More

Guest piece: Ian’s story

IanRigbyHomeI was diagnosed with a rectal cancer in 2003 when I was 52 years old, unfortunately the cancer was well advanced and had spread to other parts of my body including the liver. After over a year of treatment including operations, chemo and radiotherapy I returned to my job as a Head teacher. The treatment left me with a colostomy and in a poor physical condition.Before the illness I was very fit, my main teaching subjects were P.E. and science, I ran and played volleyball regularly.Whilst recovering I joined a walking group called “Action for Life” located in the Tandridge area of Surrey. At first I could barely walk a few hundred metres but the leaders were helpful and encouraging and I slowly improved. When I retired from teaching in 2006  I trained as a leader and the group became “Walking for Health”, all the leaders are trained and have first aid knowledge,we are now linked to the Ramblers, YMCA and Macmillan. I lead two walks a week although the programme we offer has a walk nearly every day. All the walks are carefully planned and risk assessed and can be up to 3 miles in length. Walking on a regular basis both prevents and aids recovery from illness but one of the greatest benefits is the social side; several walkers with mental health issues often comment on how it has helped them.We regularly have between twenty and thirty walkers and they all agree it has helped them health wise, socially and in reducing stress. I have always felt that if you think you can do something you probably can! By the way I am back playing volleyball.

Ian Rigby

Dorset Living Well Active is now live!

We are excited to announce that The Dorset Living Well Active Project new website is now live , providing a ‘shopfront’ for the activities, events, learning and support opportunities on offer. Once a person living with cancer has registered as a member on the site they are able to view a dedicated activity/service information page. There will also be news, events and testimonials which will be promoted through the site and social media. Watch this space for developments on the project!

Do you use online tools to help you get yourself or other people moving more and aware of the benefits to physical activity? Tweet us @Macmovemore we’d love to see what like minded individuals are doing.

A day with Risqat: Our physical activity intern & resident athlete

My day starts at 07:00 this morning with weight training at the gym. I’m an athlete so fitting training around work can mean some early starts! Once I get to the office today I’m straight back out again for the preview of the ‘This Girl Can‘TV advert for Sport England’s new campaign to celebrate active women (no matter their activity/why they do it/level of fitness) and inspire more women and girls to move more and overcome any barriers they may face. The event was held at the BAFTAs building in Piccadilly and hosted by the charismatic Claire Balding. Watch the briliant advert here: and visit the website for more information on the campaign, tips on getting into sport and the social media response!

After an exciting morning it’s back to head office for me to have lunch (today is garlic & herb chicken with Moroccan vegetable rice – I’m a big foodie so it’s always something tasty) and get on with the day. As the physical activity intern I get to be involved in multiple projects so my days always vary. This afternoon I’m working the physical activity team blog; tweaking the site, writing and uploading posts. Then I’m busy updating an England-wide survey for walking for health as we’re working towards linking projects together to increase awareness and get more people walking. The last portion of my day is spent managing the teams’ attendance and presentations at upcoming conferences. It’s important for us to have a presence at relevant events to influence the changing tide of inactivity and health in the UK and spread the physical activity message far and wide.

I usually leave work at 17:00 and tonight I haven’t got any specific track training but I’m going to do some yoga. It’s a physical activity beneficial to all ages and has a hugely positive response from people living with and beyond cancer, with many studies showing an increase in quality of life. I enjoy it because it’s relaxing and helps my back!

There you have it, one day in the life of me! Risqat

Walking football match at Active Luton

The Macmillan physical activity team spent our recent away day playing walking football against a group on the Active Luton ‘Move More’ exercise programme for people affected by cancer.

Walking football is a simple but ingenious, slow-paced adaptation of the traditional game that does not allow running or jogging. It’s harder than it sounds, or even looks; actively trying not to jog or run is difficult and the resulting brisk/power walking really gets your heart rate up!

Luton’s own former boxing champion Billy Schwer, an ambassador for the ‘Move More’ programme, was in attendance on the day and took part in the match.

Billy, himself a vocal advocate for reversing poor health through good nutrition and regular activity, said: “I feel proud to be able to support such a fantastic programme. I believe that a combination of physical, mental and nutritional health will aid prevention and recovery of any disease”

“This programme gives the tools to help people fight against cancer. You only have to look at the participants today to see the benefits that they are getting from the scheme.”

Helen Barnett, Active Luton Chief Executive, added: “The feedback on this programme has been overwhelmingly positive and is making such a difference to people’s lives.

Luton is not the only project Macmillan supports to have adopted walking football into their programme with a positive reception. The Dorset, Berkshire and Shropshire sites have successful walking football groups.

Just last week BBC News mentioned walking football as one of many unusual ways to be more active, you can read about it here:

All you need to facilitate walking football are some goals (or cones) an indoor or outdoor space, a referee and some bibs! The idea of walking can also be incorporated into other sports such as walking Netball, Walking basket ball or walking ‘touch rugby’.

Be sure to contact us and give us your thoughts if you try walking football or another adapted sport at or on our twitter at @Macmovemore

Top tips to help you move more in 2015

2015It’s that time where the mince pies and joyous feasting of yesteryear (2014 was weeks ago!) might be playing on our minds (or our waistbands). With determination and self control to rival Tibetan monks many of us decide to embark on one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions worldwide: be more active and/or eat well.

Whether you’re doing it for improved overall health, to tone up, or to lose weight you aren’t alone and it’s no easy feat. To help make sure your resolutions don’t fall by the wayside we’ve listed some failsafe tips below.


– Its unlikely you’ll lose 10 pounds, completely cut out sugar, run a marathon and master a new sport alongside your current day to day life in two months. Get real about your goals – no fad diets or gruelling daily workouts when you previously avoided exercise like the plague. Instead become a healthier you by eating healthily and being physically active at a level that suits you.


– To really achieve your goals they need to be specific. Know what you want and focus on the positive. Also break down your goals into manageable chunks. By being specific it’s easier to review how well you’re progressing with your goal.


– Once you’ve decided on your goals, tell people about it! It’s easy to break promises that only you know about, so by sharing your resolutions with friends, family or colleagues you are more likely to stick to them. You can then get people around you to remind you on a regular basis why you want to achieve your goal and what you need to do to get there and lean on them for motivation.


– We know goals are rarely achieved in one go, so break them down into smaller milestones and reward yourself along the way (not with a takeaway, mind.) Celebrate your success with treats that don’t contradict your resolutions but contribute to them. E.g. A pricier cut of meat for dinner, a new item of sportswear or booking a massage. Treat yourself healthy!


– This is the most important tip, ENJOY YOURSELF. You’ll never stick to a healthy eating plan or get physically active if it’s boring or unrealistically difficult. Rather than just eating lettuce, healthy eating can be tasty and filling if you take the time to find meals you like. And if you hated running all your life, don’t do it! Maybe you love swimming, football or Zumba instead.

Finally don’t beat yourself up if you have a slip up, mistakes do happen and rather than drag yourself down, just look to the following day to start afresh.

Good luck

Northern Ireland Workshops

Macmillan logoOn 2nd December 2014, Macmillan facilitated a Physical Activity Workshop at the Dunsilly Hotel in Antrim, Northern Ireland. The purpose of the workshop was to highlight progress to date in Northern Ireland in relation to Cancer and Physical Activity, to outline Macmillan’s strategic direction in relation to Cancer and Physical Activity, and to ascertain the views and opinions of key stakeholders. It is important to spread the physical activity and cancer message throughout the UK and Northern Ireland has so much positive activity in the coming year to look out for. Feedback from the workshop includes:

“Very good workshop. Needs to be run every year”

“Well presented, good opportunity for networking, and vital links with Macmillan staff”

“It’s great to get everyone together and to contribute on how we can evolve the work in partnership”

Further information about physical activity and cancer can be found here: and you can email the team at


Presenting at the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences annual conference

Recently our Shropshire project representatives Kim Davies (Get Active Feel Good Advisor) and Gareth Mapp (Director of Lifestyle Fitness) presented a poster of the programme titled ‘Get Active Feel Good embedding physical activity intervention support within cancer care pathways’ at the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES) annual Conference in St Georges Park. Click on the poster below to open it in a new window and again to enlarge it and learn more about the integration of physical activity into cancer care pathways. It’s worth a read!

BASES presentation poster


Jantastic is a unique and exciting digital challenge that gives individuals and teams the structure and motivation to achieve their personal fitness, health and performance goals through the tough winter months. It’s perfect for that New Year’s resolution to add some physical activity into your lifestyle.

It’s a wonderful tool for whether you’re already an exercise junkie or just starting out with some moderate physical activity, and for the first time, Jantastic participants can set fitness targets in running, cycling and swimming (or a combination of the three) and also have the option of raising money for Macmillan via a one-off donation or by fundraising as they commit to their fitness goals.

Jantastic works across three distinct four-week blocks. Each block is about setting yourself a personal running/swimming/cycling goal and as Jantastic progresses through January, February and March so does the level of your challenge. And that’s the best part. It’s tailored to YOU and the level you are happy to start with, whether that’s walking 10 minutes or running for 30.

If you coordinate or help run a physical activity project encourage your service users to take part in Jantastic as motivation to reach their physical activity goals, whatever they are.

For more information about Jantastic head to