Study highlights benefits of reducing sitting time at work

stand desk

Photo: SafetyCulture Library

A study on the benefits of reducing sitting time at work has recently been released.

Researchers from the University of Leicester in the UK and Loughborough University conducted the study to investigate simple solutions to reducing sitting time in the office.

Funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the study found that giving height-adjustable workstations to office workers, alongside a brief education seminar, posters and providing feedback on sitting behaviour reduced sitting time and increased standing whilst at work.

The Stand More AT Work (SMArT Work) study involved 146 office workers from the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS trust who were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group received the SMArT Work programme and the other group was asked to continue as normal.

After 12 months, participants in the intervention group spent 83 minutes less per day sitting down at work when compared to the control group.

Sitting, standing and movement time were measured using a device worn on the thigh. Respondents also completed a questionnaire.

“Those who received the SMArT Work programme reported improvements in their work performance, work dedication and engagement, quality of life and reduced levels of sickness presenteeism, feelings of fatigue and musculoskeletal issues, such as lower back pain,” said Dr. Charlotte Edwardson, Associate Professor from the University of Leicester’s Department of Health Sciences.

Dr. Fehmidah Munir, Reader in Health Psychology from Loughborough University and the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine East Midlands explained the importance of reducing sitting time at work.

“For people who work in an office environment, sitting down for most of the day is very common. We know this is bad for their health, but people feel restricted to this posture because of the job and the environment. We have shown that it is possible to significantly reduce the time spent sitting whilst at work with the SMArT Work programme,” said Dr. Munir.

“Presenteeism, together with absenteeism, is estimated to cost UK employers more than £30 billion annually. Approximately nine million working days are lost to musculoskeletal problems. So, the SMArT Work programme could help employers make headway into these two issues.”

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