PURPOSE: To assess the ability of subjects to perform tasks requiring selective and divided attention, short term memory, and simple motor skills while using an active workstation.
METHODS: Each participant (n = 50) completed three tests to assess divided attention, short term auditory verbal memory, selective attention, and simple motor skill while the subjects were sitting, standing and walking while using an active workstation at a speed of 1 mph. The Auditory Consonant Trigram test (ACTT) was used to assess divided attention and short term auditory verbal memory; the Stroop Color Word Test (SCWT) was used to measure selective attention; and the Digital Finger Tapping test (FTT) was used to measure motor skill and motor control.
RESULTS: A 6 × 3 Mixed Model MANOVA (test order by experimental condition) w/repeated measures on the second factor found no effects associated with test order or order of postural condition. A series of one-way ANOVAs with repeated measures found no significant differences in the sitting, standing, and walking scores for the ACTT (52.70 ± 5.58, 53.32 ± 5.39, 53.04 ± 5.16, mean ± SD respectively) or the SCWT (55.02 ± 11.90, 54.76 ± 10.72, 55.38 ± 10.83, mean ± SD respectively). A significant difference (p<.05) was found between the sitting, standing, and walking scores for the FTT (57.15 ± 8.36, 56.95 ± 8.02, 55.80 ± 8.04, mean ± SD respectively). Post-hoc means testing found significant differences (p<.05) between sitting and walking and standing and walking. No significant difference was found between sitting and standing. The difference between sitting and walking represents approximately a 2% decrement in simple motor skill.
CONCLUSION: There is a decrement in simple motor skill but not divided attention, short term auditory verbal memory, or selective attention when subjects are using an active workstation at a speed of 1 mph. Given that many people find time to be a barrier to engaging in physical activity, alteration of the work environment to increase activity may be effective in producing behavior change. This study supports the feasibility of using active workstations to promote physical activity in the work environment.