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Sit-stand desks improve worker health, performance, study finds

stand up desk
Photo: mokee81/iStockphoto

Leicester, England — Sit-stand workstations help reduce the negative impact of prolonged sitting among office workers while improving job performance and psychological health, according a recent study conducted by British researchers.

Previous research has linked prolonged sitting to higher risks for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.

For the 12-month study, 146 workers from University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust were randomly assigned to an intervention group or a control group. The former group was given height-adjustable workstations, a brief seminar with supporting leaflets, and instructions with sitting and standing targets, as well as feedback on sitting and physical activity, action-planning and goal-setting booklets, self-monitoring and prompt tools, and coaching sessions. The latter group worked as usual.

All participants were interviewed about job performance, engagement, mood and quality of life, among other topics. Their responses were recorded, along with daily sitting times.


Results showed that, after one year, those in the intervention group sat about 82 minutes less per day than those in the control group. Even after only three months, they sat about 50 minutes less a day than those in the control group.

The researchers said the results suggest that workers who use sit-stand workstations experience less daily anxiety and improved job performance, work engagement and overall quality of life. However, no notable changes in job satisfaction, cognitive function and work absences because of illness were observed.

The researchers also note that sitting time was replaced mostly by standing rather than moving, as workers’ steps and physical activity throughout the workday were unchanged.

The study results were published Oct. 10 in the British Medical Journal.

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