Research/studies Worker health and wellness Worker Health and Wellness Office Safety Tips

Should employers ‘prescribe’ breaks from sitting?


Photo: artursfoto/iStockphoto

London, Ontario — Employers can help workers avert the harmful effects of prolonged sitting on the job by taking an active role in changing their sedentary habits, a recent study shows.

For the study, a team led by researchers from Western University divided 148 participants into two groups. One group got to choose when and how to take breaks from sitting; the second did not. The participants in the ‘choice’ group could self-select strategies from a list of options or choose to have strategies recommended by experts assigned to them. In contrast, the ‘no choice’ group was assigned strategies or expert recommendations.

Although all participants took breaks from sitting more frequently and decreased their overall time spent sitting, those in the ‘no choice’ group also increased the length of their breaks from sitting and the total time they stood and moved.

As a result, study author Marc Mitchell, an assistant professor at the university, said in a press release that employers “may want to consider offering programs that are a little more straightforward or more prescriptive.”

Added study co-author Madison Hiemstra: “Employers seeking to help modify their … employees’ sedentary behaviors can easily implement and offer this type of intervention with the promise of improved break frequencies and durations, ultimately improving short- and long-term health outcomes, without compromising productivity.”

The study was published online in journal Translational Behavioral Medicine.

Post a comment to this article

Safety+Health welcomes comments that promote respectful dialogue. Please stay on topic. Comments that contain personal attacks, profanity or abusive language – or those aggressively promoting products or services – will be removed. We reserve the right to determine which comments violate our comment policy. (Anonymous comments are welcome; merely skip the “name” field in the comment box. An email address is required but will not be included with your comment.)