Using Sit-to-Stand Workstations in Offices: Is There a Compensation Effect?
Mansoubi M, Pearson N, Biddle SJH, Clemes SA. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2016;48(4):720-725.
Take Home Message: Sit-to-stand workstations is an effective strategy to decrease sedentary time and increase light activity time during working hours; however, during non-working hours more time was still spent sitting.
Effort has been made to decrease time sitting because of the negative health consequences associated with a sedentary lifestyle. The use of sit-to-stand workstations in the workplace may be an effective intervention, specifically for those working at a desk. Yet, little research has investigated whether a compensatory effect occurs with use of sit-to-stand workstations. The ActivityStat hypothesis states that when physical activity is increased or decreased in one domain, there will be a compensatory change in another domain, in order to maintain a stable overall level of physical activity or energy expenditure over time. Therefore, the authors investigated 40 office employees working in various administrative departments at a university in the UK to determine whether sit-to-stand workstations decreased sitting time, increased physical activity, and if changes in behavior persisted outside of work. Before sit-to-stand workstations were installed, each participant’s current physical activity level and sitting time was assessed for 14 days using ActiGraph (assess time spent sedentary and time performing light/ moderate/ vigorous physical activity) and activPAL3 accelerometers (measures time spent sitting, standing, and stepping). After installation of the sit-to-stand workstations, physical activity level and sitting time was assessed for 7 days at three different time periods including 1 week, 6 weeks and 3 months. Participants completed activity logs for each period of time they wore the accelerometer. and recorded information such as work start and finish time, accelerometer removal, and sleep patterns. To account for accelerometer wear time, the authors calculated the proportions of wear time during working and non-working hours for both ActiGraph and activPAL3 data at all time points. The authors reported a decrease in time spent sitting after the implementation of the sit-to-stand workstations. They also found an increase in time spent standing and in light physical activity during working hours across all time points compared to pre-intervention. During non-working hours, time spent sitting increased and time spent in light physical activity decreased across all time points compared to pre-intervention. No significant differences were seen in time spent doing moderate to vigorous activity during working and non-working hours for all time periods.
Results from this study suggest that use of sit-to-stand workstations may be an option for reducing sedentary behavior. A compensatory effect was seen for sedentary behavior and light physical activity during non-working hours, total sedentary time and time in light physical activity per day still showed improvement with use of standing workstations. Precaution should be taken when interpreting results of this study because this study did not implement a control group. Therefore, we cannot be certain that improvements in sedentary behavior were a result of the sit-to-stand workstations. Future studies should incorporate a control group, random assignment of participants and a longer follow-up period. Clinicians and human resource staff developing corporate wellness programs may want to consider the use of standing work stations as an option to help increase physical activity during working hours; however, future research will be necessary to determine how to elevate physical activity outside of work hours
Questions for Discussions: Could the increase in standing time be harmful to the spine? With use of sit-to-stand workstations, is productivity maintained?
Written by: Amanda Estep
Reviewed by: Jane McDevitt