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Using Sit-to-Stand Workstations in Offices: Is There a Compensation Effect?

MANSOUBI, MAEDEH; PEARSON, NATALIE; BIDDLE, STUART J. H.; CLEMES, STACY A.

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: April 2016 - Volume 48 - Issue 4 - p 720–725
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000802
Applied Sciences

Purpose: Sit-to-stand workstations are becoming common in modern offices and are increasingly being implemented in sedentary behavior interventions. The purpose of this study was to examine whether the introduction of such a workstation among office workers leads to reductions in sitting during working hours, and whether office workers compensate for any reduction in sitting at work by increasing sedentary time and decreasing physical activity (PA) outside work.

Methods: Office workers (n = 40; 55% female) were given a WorkFit-S, sit-to-stand workstation for 3 months. Participants completed assessments at baseline (before workstation installation), 1 wk and 6 wk after the introduction of the workstation, and again at 3 months (postintervention). Posture and PA were assessed using the activPAL inclinometer and ActiGraph GT3X+ accelerometer, which participants wore for 7 d during each measurement phase.

Results: Compared with baseline, the proportion of time spent sitting significantly decreased (75% ± 13% vs 52% ± 16% to 56% ± 13%), and time spent standing and in light activity significantly increased (standing: 19% ± 12% vs 32% ± 12% to 37% ± 15%, light PA: 14% ± 4% vs 16% ± 5%) during working hours at all follow-up assessments. However, compared with baseline, the proportion of time spent sitting significantly increased (60% ± 11% vs 66% ± 12% to 68% ± 12%) and light activity significantly decreased (21% ± 5% vs 19% ± 5%) during nonworking hours across the follow-up measurements. No differences were seen in moderate-to-vigorous activity during nonworking hours throughout the study.

Conclusion: The findings suggest that introducing a sit-to-stand workstation can significantly reduce sedentary time and increase light activity levels during working hours. However, these changes were compensated for by reducing activity and increasing sitting outside of working hours. An intervention of a sit-to-stand workstation should be accompanied by an intervention outside of working hours to limit behavior compensation.

1School of Sport, Exercise & Health Sciences, Loughborough University, UNITED KINGDOM; 2Institute of Sport, Exercise & Active Living, Victoria University, Melbourne, AUSTRALIA; and 3The NIHR Leicester-Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity Biomedical Research Unit, Loughborough University, UNITED KINGDOM

Address for correspondence: Stacy A. Clemes, Ph.D., School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE11 3TU, United Kingdom; E-mail: S.A.Clemes@lboro.ac.uk.

Submitted for publication August 2015.

Accepted for publication October 2015.

© 2016 American College of Sports Medicine