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Workers still sitting despite getting standing desks, study reveals

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Workers using standing desks still spend most of their time sitting down, a study has found.

Height-adjustable desks have soared in popularity in recent years as employees attempt to overcome the sedentary lifestyle of office working.

To find out whether these desks were having an impact, Leicester University recruited 756 council workers and split them into three groups.

One group continued its normal desk-bound behaviour while another was invited to take join a programme offering encouragement and assistance to stand more often. A third group was fully enrolled in the programme and was offered standing desks.

The team found taking part in the programme reduced daily sitting time by 22 minutes but those with standing desks added only a further 42 minutes of standing. For the vast majority of the time, they continued to sit down.

However, researchers said it was still encouraging to see some improvement.

“Our results suggest a combination of education, motivational resources, peer support and standing desks has the greatest effect on reducing sitting in the workplace,” said Dr Charlotte Edwardson, associate professor of physical activity, sedentary behaviour and health at the university, and lead author of the paper.

The programme urges people to avoid sitting at work and on non-work days and suggests changes in offices to encourage movement – such as locating bins and printers further away.

Workers’ sitting time was measured using an “accelerometer” device worn on the thigh.

Researchers said they noticed improvements in stress levels and wellbeing among the groups who changed their behaviour. But no improvements in sedentary behaviour were noticed outside of work hours.

Dr Alex Clarke-Cornwell, reader in public health epidemiology at the University of Salford, and a co-author of the study, said: “Alongside the reduction in sitting time, participants perceived small improvements in stress, wellbeing and work vigour.

“They also reported feeling more energised, focused and productive, with the group who also received the desk reporting fewer musculoskeletal issues.”

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(© Telegraph Media Group Ltd 2022)

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022]


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