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-

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.

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

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

Questions for Discussions: Could the
increase in standing time be harmful to the spine? With use of sit-to-stand
workstations, is productivity maintained?

by: Amanda Estep
by: Jane McDevitt

Mansoubi M, Pearson N, Biddle SJ, & Clemes SA (2016). Using Sit-to-Stand Workstations in Offices: Is There a Compensation Effect? Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 48 (4), 720-5 PMID: 26496419