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Effects of office workstation type on physical activity and stress
  1. Casey M Lindberg1,
  2. Karthik Srinivasan2,
  3. Brian Gilligan3,
  4. Javad Razjouyan4,5,
  5. Hyoki Lee4,
  6. Bijan Najafi4,
  7. Kelli J Canada6,
  8. Matthias R Mehl7,
  9. Faiz Currim2,
  10. Sudha Ram2,
  11. Melissa M Lunden8,
  12. Judith H Heerwagen3,
  13. Kevin Kampschroer3,
  14. Esther M Sternberg1
  1. 1 College of Medicine, Institute on Place, Wellbeing & Performance, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA
  2. 2 INSITE Center for Business Intelligence and Analytics, Department of MIS, Eller College of Management, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA
  3. 3 Office of Federal High-Performance Buildings, US General Services Administration, Washington, District of Columbia, USA
  4. 4 Michael E DeBakey Department of Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine, Interdisciplinary Consortium on Advanced Motion Performance (iCAMP), Houston, Texas, USA
  5. 5 Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness and Safety, Houston, Texas, USA
  6. 6 LMI, Tysons, Virginia, USA
  7. 7 Department of Psychology, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA
  8. 8 Aclima, San Francisco, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Esther M Sternberg, College of Medicine, Institute on Place, Wellbeing & Performance, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85724, USA; esternberg{at}


Objective Office environments have been causally linked to workplace-related illnesses and stress, yet little is known about how office workstation type is linked to objective metrics of physical activity and stress. We aimed to explore these associations among office workers in US federal office buildings.

Methods We conducted a wearable, sensor-based, observational study of 231 workers in four office buildings. Outcome variables included workers’ physiological stress response, physical activity and perceived stress. Relationships between office workstation type and these variables were assessed using structural equation modelling.

Results Workers in open bench seating were more active at the office than those in private offices and cubicles (open bench seating vs private office=225.52 mG (31.83% higher on average) (95% CI 136.57 to 314.46); open bench seating vs cubicle=185.13 mG (20.16% higher on average) (95% CI 66.53 to 303.72)). Furthermore, workers in open bench seating experienced lower perceived stress at the office than those in cubicles (−0.27 (9.10% lower on average) (95% CI −0.54 to −0.02)). Finally, higher physical activity at the office was related to lower physiological stress (higher heart rate variability in the time domain) outside the office (−26.12 ms/mG (14.18% higher on average) (95% CI −40.48 to −4.16)).

Conclusions Office workstation type was related to enhanced physical activity and reduced physiological and perceived stress. This research highlights how office design, driven by office workstation type, could be a health-promoting factor.

  • occupational health practice
  • cardiovascular
  • stress
  • physical activity
  • workplace design

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  • Contributors All authors contributed to the study conception and design. CML, BG and KJC contributed to the acquisition of data. All authors contributed to the analysis and interpretation of data. CML, KS, BG, JR, HL, BN, MRM and EMS drafted the first version of the manuscript. All authors critically revised the manuscript and approved the final text.

  • Funding This study was funded by a US General Services Administration contract (#GS-00-H-14-AA-C-0094).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Ethics approval This study was approved by the University of Arizona Institutional Review Board.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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