Breaking up workplace sitting time with intermittent standing bouts improves fatigue and musculoskeletal discomfort in overweight/obese office workers
- 1Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
- 2Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Victoria, Australia
- 3Department of Physiology, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
- 4Department of Physiology, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
- 5Department of Medicine, Monash University, Victoria, Australia
- 6The University of Queensland, School of Population Health, Cancer Prevention Research Centre, Queensland, Australia
- 7School of Population Health, The University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
- 8Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Victoria, Australia
- 9School of Sport Science, Exercise and Health, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
- Correspondence to Dr Alicia A Thorp, Neurovascular Hypertension and Kidney Disease Laboratory, Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, 99 Commercial Road, Melbourne, Victoria 3004, Australia;
- Received 22 May 2014
- Revised 22 July 2014
- Accepted 13 August 2014
- Published Online First 28 August 2014
Objectives To examine whether the introduction of intermittent standing bouts during the workday using a height-adjustable workstation can improve subjective levels of fatigue, musculoskeletal discomfort and work productivity relative to seated work.
Methods Overweight/obese office workers (n=23; age 48.2±7.9 years, body mass index 29.6±4 kg/m2) undertook two, 5-day experimental conditions in an equal, randomised (1:1) order. In a simulated office environment, participants performed their usual occupational tasks for 8 h/day in a: seated work posture (SIT condition); or interchanging between a standing and seated work posture every 30 min using an electric, height-adjustable workstation (STAND-SIT condition). Self-administered questionnaires measuring fatigue, musculoskeletal discomfort and work productivity were performed on day 5 of each experimental condition.
Results Participants’ total fatigue score was significantly higher during the SIT condition (mean 67.8 (95% CI 58.8 to 76.7)) compared with the STAND-SIT condition (52.7 (43.8 to 61.5); p<0.001). Lower back musculoskeletal discomfort was significantly reduced during the STAND-SIT condition compared with the SIT condition (31.8% reduction; p=0.03). Despite concentration/focus being significantly higher during the SIT condition (p=0.006), there was a trend towards improved overall work productivity in favour of the STAND-SIT condition (p=0.053).
Conclusions Transitioning from a seated to a standing work posture every 30 min across the workday, relative to seated work, led to a significant reduction in fatigue levels and lower back discomfort in overweight/obese office workers, while maintaining work productivity. Future investigations should be directed at understanding whether sustained use of height-adjustable workstations promote concentration and productivity at work.
Trial Registration Number ACTRN12611000632998.