Category: In The News
Desk-based workers’ perspectives on using sit-stand workstations: a qualitative analysis of the Stand@Work study
A new paper published in BMC Public Health examines worker’s perspectives on sit-stand workstations. From the abstract:
Prolonged sitting time has been identified as a health risk factor. Sit-stand workstations allow desk workers to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the working day, but not much is known about their acceptability and feasibility. Hence, the aim of this study was to qualitatively evaluate the acceptability, feasibility and perceptions of using sit-stand workstations in a group of desk-based office workers.
This article describes the qualitative evaluation of the randomized controlled cross-over Stand@Work pilot trial. Participants were adult employees recruited from a non-government health agency in Sydney, Australia. The intervention involved using an Ergotron Workfit S sit-stand workstation for four weeks. After the four week intervention, participants shared their perceptions and experiences of using the sit-stand workstation in focus group interviews with 4-5 participants. Topics covered in the focus groups included patterns of workstation use, barriers and facilitators to standing while working, effects on work performance, physical impacts, and feasibility in the office. Focus group field notes and transcripts were analysed in an iterative process during and after the data collection period to identify the main concepts and themes.
During nine 45-min focus groups, a total of 42 participants were interviewed. Participants were largely intrinsically motivated to try the sit-stand workstation, mostly because of curiosity to try something new, interest in potential health benefits, and the relevance to the participant’s own and organisation’s work. Most participants used the sit-stand workstation and three common usage patterns were identified: task-based routine, time-based routine, and no particular routine. Common barriers to sit-stand workstation use were working in an open plan office, and issues with sit-stand workstation design. Common facilitators of sit-stand workstation use were a supportive work environment conducive to standing, perceived physical health benefits, and perceived work benefits. When prompted, most participants indicated they were interested in using a sit-stand workstation in the future.
The use of a sit-stand workstation in this group of desk-based office workers was generally perceived as acceptable and feasible. Future studies are needed to explore this in different desk-based work populations and settings.
The full-text is available for free via the BMC Public Health website.
From Stone Hearth Newsletters:
The study, published in today’s online edition of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, examined the association between fitness levels, daily exercise, and sedentary behavior, based on data from 2,223 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
The team of physician-researchers analyzed accelerometer data from men and women between the ages of 12 and 49 with no known history of heart disease, asthma, or stroke, and measured their average daily physical activity and sedentary behavior times. Fitness was estimated using a submaximal treadmill test, and variables were adjusted for gender, age, and body mass index. The findings demonstrate that the negative effect of six hours of sedentary time on fitness levels was similar in magnitude to the benefit of one hour of exercise.
“We also found that when sitting for prolonged periods of time, any movement is good movement, and was also associated with better fitness,” said Dr. Jacquelyn Kulinski, a recent graduate from the UT Southwestern Cardiology Fellowship Training Program and first author of the paper. “So if you are stuck at your desk for a while, shift positions frequently, get up and stretch in the middle of a thought, pace while on a phone call, or even fidget.”
The full article is available here.
Dr Catrine Tudor-Locke of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center describes the pros and cons of pedal and treadmill desks.
From PLOS ONE:
Excessive sedentary time (SED) has been linked to obesity and other adverse health outcomes. However, few sedentary-reducing interventions exist and none have utilized smartphones to automate behavioral strategies to decrease SED. We tested a smartphone-based intervention to monitor and decrease SED in overweight/obese individuals, and compared 3 approaches to prompting physical activity (PA) breaks and delivering feedback on SED.
Design and Methods
Participants [N = 30; Age = 47.5(13.5) years; 83% female; Body Mass Index (BMI) = 36.2(7.5) kg/m2] wore the SenseWear Mini Armband (SWA) to objectively measure SED for 7 days at baseline. Participants were then presented with 3 smartphone-based PA break conditions in counterbalanced order: (1) 3-min break after 30 SED min; (2) 6-min break after 60 SED min; and (3) 12-min break after 120 SED min. Participants followed each condition for 7 days and wore the SWA throughout.
All PA break conditions yielded significant decreases in SED and increases in light (LPA) and moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) (p<0.005). Average % SED at baseline (72.2%) decreased by 5.9%, 5.6%, and 3.3% [i.e. by mean (95% CI) −47.2(−66.3, −28.2), −44.5(−65.2, −23.8), and −26.2(−40.7, −11.6) min/d] in the 3-, 6-, and 12-min conditions, respectively. Conversely, % LPA increased from 22.8% to 26.7%, 26.7%, and 24.7% [i.e. by 31.0(15.8, 46.2), 31.0(13.6, 48.4), and 15.3(3.9, 26.8) min/d], and % MVPA increased from 5.0% to 7.0%, 6.7%, and 6.3% (i.e. by 16.2(8.5, 24.0), 13.5(6.3, 20.6), and 10.8(4.2, 17.5) min/d] in the 3-, 6-, and 12-min conditions, respectively. Planned pairwise comparisons revealed the 3-min condition was superior to the 12-min condition in decreasing SED and increasing LPA (p<0.05).
The smartphone-based intervention significantly reduced SED. Prompting frequent short activity breaks may be the most effective way to decrease SED and increase PA in overweight/obese individuals. Future investigations should determine whether these SED reductions can be maintained long-term.
The full text is available free via PLOS ONE.
A new review in the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity looks at the potential impact of sedentary behaviour on mental health:
It is generally understood that regular moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) promotes good health from head to toe. Evidence also supports the notion that too much sitting can increase all-cause mortality and risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes. Moreover, there is evidence that daily MVPA may not offset negative effects of sedentary behavior on systemic risk factors. We extend the discussion to brain structure and function and argue that while MVPA is recognized as a protective behavior against age-related dementia, sedentary behavior may also be an important contributor to brain health and even counteract the benefits of MVPA due to overlapping or interacting mechanistic pathways. Thus, the goals of this review are (1) to outline evidence linking both PA and sedentary behavior to neurobiological systems that are known to influence behavioral outcomes such as cognitive aging and (2) to propose productive areas of future research.
The full article is now available via the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity.
Dr Meredith Peddie of the University of Otago (New Zealand) is currently looking for a PhD/MSc student to investigate the energy expenditure and possible dietary compensation associated with prolonged sitting, continuous physical activity, and regular activity breaks.
The full posting can be found below:
University of Otago Scholarships to undertake a PhD are available to those candidates with an excellent academic record.
The Heart Foundation of Australia has created a series of excellent workplace wellness posters targeting sedentary behaviour that can be printed off from their website.
Sit-Less PostersA range of four posters that act as a visual cue to prompt workers to stand or move more frequently in a workplace setting. These posters also provide imagery on ways that people can reduce extended sitting throughout the day.
Download your copies :
More workplace wellness resources are available via the Heart Foundation website.
Earlier this week we posted the abstract of a study concluding that sedentary behaviour may not have health effects independent of physical activity. David Dunstan and colleagues have responded with a comment on the article, available via PLOS ONE.
From the comment:
Maher and colleagues report findings from a secondary analysis of accelerometer data collected as part of the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). They found no associations of sedentary time with cardiometabolic risk biomarkers, when controlling for a measure of “total physical activity” that was composed of time spent in both moderate- to vigorous-intensity and light-intensity physical activity (that is, all non-sedentary time), weighted by intensity (accelerometer counts). On this basis, they concluded that sedentary time may not have health effects independent of physical activity. Leaving aside legitimate concerns with interpreting null results in this fashion, a broader conclusion that might be drawn is that there is limited (or no) merit in searching for “independent” effects of behaviours that are unavoidably “interdependent”.
Both the full article and the full comment are available via PLOS ONE.
A new study published in PLOS ONE suggests that sedentary behavior may not be associated with health independent of total physical activity. From the abstract:
Recent literature has posed sedentary behaviour as an independent entity to physical inactivity. This study investigated whether associations between sedentary behaviour and cardio-metabolic biomarkers remain when analyses are adjusted for total physical activity.
Cross-sectional analyses were undertaken on 4,618 adults from the 2003/04 and 2005/06 U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Minutes of sedentary behaviour and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), and total physical activity (total daily accelerometer counts minus counts accrued during sedentary minutes) were determined from accelerometry. Associations between sedentary behaviour and cardio-metabolic biomarkers were examined using linear regression.
Results showed that sedentary behaviour was detrimentally associated with 8/11 cardio-metabolic biomarkers when adjusted for MVPA. However, when adjusted for total physical activity, the associations effectively disappeared, except for C-reactive protein, which showed a very small, favourable association (β = −0.06) and triglycerides, which showed a very small, detrimental association (β = 0.04). Standardised betas suggested that total physical activity was consistently, favourably associated with cardio-metabolic biomarkers (9/11 biomarkers, standardized β = 0.08–0.30) while sedentary behaviour was detrimentally associated with just 1 biomarker (standardized β = 0.12).
There is virtually no association between sedentary behaviour and cardio-metabolic biomarkers once analyses are adjusted for total physical activity. This suggests that sedentary behaviour may not have health effects independent of physical activity.
The full study is available via the journal PLOS ONE.