Press release

“Germany remains seated” – especially at work

Press release 8 August 2016

DKV and the Centre for Health of the German Sport University in Cologne have released the fourth edition of the DKV Report, “How healthy is Germany?” The report gives an insight into the health-related behaviour of people in Germany.

  • This time, the focus was on the workplace: 46 percent of the workforce have largely sedentary Jobs
  • Office workers sit down for a total of 11 hours per day
  • Activity levels are decreasing: people with lower levels of qualifications are particularly at risk

For the 2016 DKV Report, “How healthy is Germany?”, market research institute GfK asked more than 2,830 people across the country a multitude of questions about their health-related behaviour. Over the phone, those surveyed talked at great length about their everyday lives: how much exercise they do, what they eat, how stressed they are, as well as their drinking and smoking habits. People who predominantly work at a desk also reported on how long they stayed seated, their attitudes to sitting down at work and what prevents them from standing up.

Sitting for 11 hours a day

Computers and desk work shape many people’s everyday lives 46 percent of employees in the survey reported mainly working at a desk. This primarily applies to people with higher levels of qualifications and higher income. “Your mind is active, but from a physical point of view, you have to say: almost half of employees are generally paid for sitting around”, stated Clemens Muth, Chairman of the Board of Management at health insurer DKV. People with desk jobs sit on average for 73 percent of their time at work. “We sit while using the computer, while on the phone and even in meetings. These routines can and should be changed”, Muth said.

Across the course of a day, the typical desk worker sits down for around 11 hours, including breaks. This has far-reaching consequences for the fat and blood sugar metabolism and can make people ill over the long term. However, many workers see their daily working lives differently. “Desk workers generally want to sit down less. This is a clear finding from the DKV Report,” stated Ingo Froböse, Professor at the German Sport University Cologne and Scientific Director of the DKV Report. On average, desk workers only want to sit for about half of their time at work, instead of almost three quarters. So why don’t they stand instead? “For many, sitting down is just part of work. It’s routine and people just don’t think about”, Froböse explained. This is also borne out by the statistics: 73 percent sit down without even thinking about it.

Standing up starts in the mind

“Everyone is able to do something for their health by choosing to sit less at work”, Froböse commented. And that’s not all: “Standing up starts in the mind.” The easiest way to do this is to stand up several times a day, either to use the phone or by working while standing at a higher desk.
“However, standing still for long periods of time is also not ideal”, Froböse said. For one thing, desk workers only wish to stand for about 17 percent of their time at work. And for another thing, standing still for long periods of time is not necessarily good for your health and can lead to musculoskeletal problems, for example. Desk workers would ideally prefer to be more active when at work. Froböse's recommendation: “Meetings of smaller numbers of people can be held while walking. Whether you call it a walk-and-talk meeting or just a stroll is down to the corporate culture. In addition, reorganising the office may help to promote more movement at work and standing up more frequently.”

Physical activity is on the decline

The DKV Report not only investigated sitting, but also other lifestyle aspects, including physical activity, nutrition, alcohol consumption, smoking and subjective stress levels. The percentage of people who live “generally healthy lives” and score well in all these five areas remain at a low level with 11 percent. People in the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania scored best with a total of 19 percent of people living “generally healthy lives.”

The health-related behaviour of German people has changed in recent years, particularly with regard to physical activity. In comparison to the previous three DKV Reports from 2010, 2012 and 2014, people are engaging in much less physical exercise. This year, only 45 percent of people achieved the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) minimum recommendations for physical activity of 150 minutes per week. In the 2014 survey, this figure was 54 percent. The decline in activity levels in the workplace is most pronounced. “We increasingly have a social problem when it comes to exercise”, DKV Board Chairman Clemens Muth warned. “People with low levels of qualifications generally only move when at work, and very little in their spare time. In the digital world, there is going to be less and less physical work involved.” In addition, exercise as a leisure pursuit is particularly beneficial to health. Among people with school-leaving qualifications in Germany, almost half say they are not at all active in their leisure time. “This marked disparity in social situations is also reflected when it comes to obesity. Obesity is one of the most common causes of cardiovascular disease. Information material and mass sport can help to redress this disparity.”

An overview of the 2016 DKV report:
Scientific Directors Prof. Ingo Froböse and Dr. Birgit Sperlich, Zentrum für Gesundheit, German Sport University Cologne,
CAT1 telephone survey  GfK Nuremberg
Number of participants 2,830
Survey period 2 March to 1 April 2016
Publication, graphics 2016 DKV Report, “How healthy is Germany?”, 48 pages, PDF file for download in German from

For further information, please contact:

Sybille Schneider

Media Relations
Sybille Schneider

Tel +49 211 477-5187
Fax +49 211 477-3113

About DKV
For over 80 years, the DKV has been a pioneer in the industry with needs-orientated and innovative products. The health specialist provides comprehensive health and nursing care insurance coverage, as well as health care services to customers in private and state health insurance, and organises high-quality medical care. In 2015, the company recorded a premium income of 4.8 billion euros.
DKV is the health insurance specialist of the ERGO Group and thus part of Munich Re, one of the world's leading reinsurers and risk carriers.  
More at  

This press release contains forward-looking statements that are based on current assumptions and forecasts of the management of DKV Deutsche Krankenversicherung. Known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the forward-looking statements given here and the actual development, in particular the results, financial situation and performance of our Company. The Company assumes no liability to update these forwardlooking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.

Subscription press releases

You are a media representative and would like to receive our press releases? Please send us an e-mail to: Or subscribe our RSS feeds: