Wait, I’m supposed to stand for how long a day??

5 minute read

Maybe optimal health isn’t worth this

Science has once again found a way to shame us for what we are and are not doing with our lives. 

New research has broken down the 24 hours of the day into the ideal amount of time to spend on each activity and (not to sugarcoat it too much) it seems wholly unattainable for us mere mortals. 

Swinburne University of Technology and the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute have determined this to be the breakdown of the day for “optimal health”: 

  • Six hours of sitting; 
  • Five hours and 10 minutes of standing; 
  • Eight hours and 20 minutes of sleeping; 
  • Two hours and 10 minutes of light-intensity physical activity; and 
  • Two hours and 10 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity. 

The data came from nearly 2400 men and women with wearable devices and, one can only assume, type A personalities and a passion for precise documentation down to the second.  

With an average age of 60, the high levels of sleep, standing and activity combined with the unreasonably low amount of sitting found to be optimal among this group is even more impressive.  

Words like “young” and “fit” have been used by medical professionals to describe this Back Page correspondent, and I still balked at how these researchers suggest I spend my time.  

Two plus hours of moderate intensity physical activity? You mean like … every day?! Bugger doing that when I’m 60. I doubt I’ll even make it that long, given that I am clearly very far from the practices of those with “optimal health”. 

Before you despair too much, dear readers, this scribbler may have found you a loophole. If you’ll notice, the above framework only totals 23 hours and 50 minutes. 

I quickly set to work figuring out exactly what you could accomplish with these glorious 10 minutes of free time you’ve been allotted daily that does not fall into any of these categories. The clear conclusion that can be drawn from this research is that whatever you do in those 10 minutes will not affect your health whatsoever, right?  

So, we might as well go nuts with it. 


You can use some of your physical activity time to climb up very tall things, and once the clock ticks over to your allotted free time, you can fall gently back down to earth with the aid of a device of your choosing; parachute, rope, an exceptionally large Bunnings hat – the choice is yours! 

Please note: dramatically flinging yourself over the edge may count as physical activity and is therefore, not to be included as part of your free time. If you go over your optimal daily physical activity time, you may just drop dead. 

Keg stands 

While not generally something done in Australia, the classic American college movie trope has always held a certain allure for us Aussie 20-somethings. The study did not specify whether or not handstands made up any portion of the “standing” allotment and if your frat bros are dutifully dangling you upside down and limiting the amount of hand-standing you’re actually doing, the physical exertion should be more minimal than light-intensity activity.  

As long as the amount of beer you chug while suspended upside down is within the Australian Dietary Guidelines’ recommendations for daily alcohol consumption, I’d say you’re pretty much in the clear health-wise. 

Being heroically carried by a rom-com protagonist 

Come on, do it for your health. 

It may sound like a lot to orchestrate, but really, it doesn’t have to be as fancy as all that Hollywood crap. There are plenty of strong men and women for hire on the internet, usually with a same-day availability in your area and a willingness to cater to any and all bizarre wardrobe requests … or so I’ve heard. 

Be sure you don’t get too comfy and fall asleep or are carried in such a way that could be considered sitting. And have some fun with it! 

Floating in the Dead Sea 

Geographically challenging, sure, but definitely a good excuse to travel. You can do a tour of all the bodies of water in the world with a high enough salt content to buoy you without needing any physical exertion and enjoy your 10 minutes a day obediently floating your way to better health.  

As a side note, I wouldn’t recommend those sensory deprivation flotation tanks. I fell asleep almost immediately, thrashed around wildly upon waking and then spent 40 minutes with the worst case of salt-water eye-sting ever experienced. Definitely not ideal for a sleepless, activity-free 10 minutes. 


This may seem abstract but stick with me here. 

You could use your sitting time over many years, possibly even a lifetime to attain true enlightenment. If my sources are to be believed, it may then be possible for you to transcend the physical laws of our world and spend your daily 10 suspended above the ground. 

Alternatively, you could take up UFO spotting and befriend some alien lifeforms. Surely, as a kind and curious species, they will offer to assist you in reaching optimal health and will gladly hold you in their light beam in your spare time. You’d be able to take in new and wonderful views every day, all while avoiding going over your allotment of sitting, standing, sleeping and exercising. 

What would you do with your 10 minutes? Let penny@medicalrepublic.com.au know. 

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