top of page

BLIND SPOT: Will the Real Sedentary please stand up

Whatever happened to “Magtanim ay ‘di biro; maghapong nakayuko. Di man lang makaupo. Di man lang makatayo”? Nowadays, it’s “Magcomputer na tuliro; magdamag na nakaupo. Sa monitor, nakayuko. Ayaw man lang tumayo.” “The Department of Labor and Employment has issued an order requiring offices to give employees standing breaks for employees to the health risks related to sedentary work. Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has signed Department Order 184, which sets mandatory occupational safety and health standards in all workplaces to address health risks and ensure safe working conditions in offices.” ( Now, this is something new. I’ve heard of a pee break, coffee break, cigarette break; but standing break? I tried to google for other forms of implementation of the “standing break”, but so far, it seems that the DOLE is pioneering this revolution. “The order signed October 18 covers those involved in “computer, administrative, and clerical works” and those working in highly-mechanized establishments and “in the fields of transportation, toll booths, information technology, and business process management and industries where sedentary work is observed.” ( According to, the most popular jobs in the Philippines are (from most popular) accountant, call center agent, accounting clerk, domestic helper, sales clerk, human resource development assistant, car driver, mechanical draftsman, cashier, engineer, electrical machine operator, promo girl and office clerk. ( According to the 10 Most Popular Jobs in the Philippines are maritime officers, human resources manager, civil engineer, account executive, receptionist, teacher, technical support staff, customer serviced assistant, call center agent, and medical technologist. ( Considering these lists, 60 to 64% of popular employment in the Philippines are sedentary for the whole time of office hours; and an additional 20% may involve sedentary work for about half or more of their office hours. (I should know. I write a column for a newspaper.) So, I guess roughly 60% of the Filipino work force sit on their butts for more or less 8 hours, 5 to 6 days a week. (Kaya siguro, mayo nang paninindugan.) “Employers must also ensure that workstations are designed appropriately for the type of work and redesign work tasks to enable greater variability in movement or posture.” ( Does that mean DepEd is going to give me a well cushioned teacher’s table and a stool for me to rest my feet on? “These efforts come as studies link stationary lifestyles and extended periods of sitting to increased health risks such as high blood pressure, obesity, and heart disease.” (, I don’t mind sitting, I think I’d get sick if I walk around under the rain or the tropical sun. On a serious note, this is a highly commendable move from the Department of Labor and Employment. This indicates that our government is not just concerned with job generation, salary and benefits, and conventional working conditions, but they also examine workplace and work routine health risks. “Research work has shown that people who lead a sedentary lifestyle become aged very fast.” “Sedentary lifestyle promotes formation of blocks within arteries resulting in circulatory problems that lead to heart related problems”. “Decreased activity increases the risk of developing certain types of cancers”. ( “Sedentary lifestyle decreases brain activity” “Sedentary lifestyle can make you socially aloof”. ( With all those settled, some questions linger like: “Would a bi-hourly 5 minute stand significantly help? Research “suggest that “even a little bit of activity, spread throughout the day, is a practical, easy way to improve well-being,” ( “Research suggests that just standing, even if you don’t walk around can have health benefits. To get the right balance, sit 20 minutes out of every half hour at work, standing for eight minutes and moving around for at least two minutes. “( A British doctor claims that “Standing for three hours a day, five days a week, is the equivalent of running ten marathons a year,”. ( So, I guess, DOLE did some valid research on this one. The five minute every two hour stand would really help. Another question is “How will this be implemented?”. Will bosses include this on daily agenda and religiously implement this? How would DOLE monitor its implementation? Will this come with accomplishment reports? There is considerable probability that this may be perceived as trivial and pressed under the cushions of comfortable chairs. This order may end up as just that – just another order. Whatever the outcome may be, the state has done its part. At the end of the day, the bottomline is on each person’s bottom. Every Filipino concerned with his total well-being has to take a stand. “physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things,” 1 Timothy 4:8

bottom of page