Northern Territory

Workers motivated to take a stand

James Cook University researchers have been putting theory into practice with the successful trial of a method that reduces sedentary behaviour at work.

PhD candidate Teneale McGuckin is a lecturer in Sport and Exercise Science at JCU. She said the group wanted to test the effectiveness of a theory focused on using personalised interventions to reduce the sedentary behaviour of office workers.

“We found we could produce significant change, even without providing physical structures like a standing desk,” she said.

Ms McGuckin said it was well-established that sitting for long periods of time can have negative health outcomes.

“Increased sitting time has been associated with an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease and reduced life expectancy. Links to weight gain, some cancers, type 2 diabetes, and breathing difficulties have also been identified,” she said.

The team found that with one-on-one consultations that included goal-setting they could make positive changes in behaviour.

“Goal setting was a large focus of the intervention. The majority of goals were prompt-based and supported purposeful standing or walking.

“Things such as going for a walk at morning tea, standing or walking when interacting with colleagues instead of sending an email, walking further to amenities or standing for the duration of a phone call.”

The volunteers filled in a journal and were fitted with movement monitors.

“We saw a reduction in sedentary behaviour, even without providing standing desks. 27 office-based workers reduced occupational sitting time by an average of 45 minutes per workday,” said Ms McGuckin.

She said individual workers responded differently to the set goals, and while some welcomed one-on-one contact with the researchers, others did not.

“That emphasised to us that if you want the best results in changing behaviour you have to have an approach tailored to the individual,” she said.

What can you do to stay active at work?

  1. Go for a walk at morning tea time.
  2. Stand and walk to talk to colleagues in person rather than sending an email.
  3. Take the long way when you are walking somewhere.
  4. Stand-up when you are on the phone.
  5. Have standing lunch-breaks, instead of sitting down.

Source: JCU