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Give workers standing desks and make them get to their feet in meetings, Health Secretary urges

Employers should give workers standing desks and get staff on their feet for meetings, the health secretary has said.

Matt Hancock called on businesses to help employees to build activity into their days, in a bid to counter deadly sedentary lifestyles.

The health secretary said he uses a standing desk - finding it boosted his increased his activity levels, and boosted productivity.

Research has found that sitting for eight hours a day could increase the risk of premature death by up to 60 per cent.

Mr Hancock urged companies to offer stand-sit desks, and to avoid too many seated meetings, to ensure workers spend more of the day on the move.

Speaking after a two-and-a-half hour cabinet meeting to discuss Brexit negotiations, the minister said such measures had multiple benefits - not only to health.

"Workplaces can make a difference; encouraging breaks, offering standing desks, having standing meetings - which in my experience tend to finish quicker too," he told a global conference on physical activity.

"I know from personal experience that having a standing desk can help you get some exercise and improve your productivity at work," he later added.

Standing desks have been found to burn around 50 calories extra an hour.

Matt Hancock plays a charity football match on the first day of the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham Credit: Andrew McCaren This means three hours standing daily could result burn around 30,000 extra calories - typically, resulting in around 8lbs weightloss.

Research has found that sitting for eight hours a day could increase the risk of premature death by up to 60 per cent.

The Health Secretary also urged GPs, schools and parents to do more to encourage physical acviity, describing it as a "miracle cure" which cuts the risk of a host of ilnesses.

"Doctors should not be afraid to tell patients that they need to be more active," he told the London summit. "Our message should be that movement is medicine."

Under NHS targets, some hospital trusts are able to receive extra funding by introducing measures to boost staff fitness.

One trust was last year found to have introduced targets which meant they could receive extra funds if staff stand up - for at least two minutes - in any meetings lasting at least one hour.

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