Researchers from Loughborough University, the University of Leicester and Leicester Diabetes Centre have developed an intervention aimed at reducing office workers’ sitting time at work.

Thirty seven groups of office workers (around 150 participants) from Leicester’s Hospitals were recruited for the study and split into those who received the intervention and those that didn’t. The participants were given height-adjustable workstations and supporting behaviour change strategies. Data was collected prior to the standing desks being installed and then at three-month intervals up to 12 months.

The study found significant differences in sitting at work and daily sitting time at all points in favour of the intervention group. Overall sitting time was successfully reduced and maintained over the longer term. There were also positive differences in work-related health outcomes including self-rated job performance, occupational fatigue, work dedication and overall work engagement.

Our message is simple; sit less, move more and we’re trying to encourage this in office environments.

Office workers spend 70-85% of work hours sedentary. High levels of sitting have been linked to the development of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer but something as simple as regularly breaking up sitting by standing has been shown to benefit health.

Loughborough University’s Dr Fehmidah Munir said: “This is a cost-effective intervention which showed real improvements in several work-related outcomes. NHS trusts and other organisations could benefit from incorporating this type of intervention with their staff.”

Study coordinator Dr Sophie O’Connell from the Leicester Diabetes Centre said: “Our message is simple; sit less, move more and we’re trying to encourage this in office environments. Changes in the demands of work and increased use of computers have led to long, uninterrupted periods of occupational sitting.”

The Stand More at Work project has been funded by the NIHR Department of Health Policy Research Programme.