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Acute Effects of Interrupting Sitting on Discomfort and Alertness of Office Workers

Benzo, Roberto Martín, MS; Kruse, Nicholas T., PhD; Hughes, William E., MS; Casey, Darren P., PhD; Carr, Lucas J., PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: September 2018 - Volume 60 - Issue 9 - p 804–809
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001329

Objective: The aim of this study was to compare the effect of 4 hours of sitting interrupted with hourly bouts of standing and/or pedaling versus uninterrupted sitting on alertness and discomfort among sedentary office workers.

Methods: Fifteen middle-aged sedentary workers were randomized to three 4-hour conditions: (1) uninterrupted sitting; (2) sitting interrupted with 10 minutes of standing/hour; and (3) sitting interrupted with 10 minutes of pedaling/hour. Self-reported measures of alertness and discomfort were collected.

Results: Uninterrupted sitting significantly increased discomfort (P < 0.001). Discomfort was lower in both the standing (P < 0.001) and pedaling (P < 0.001) conditions than the uninterrupted sitting condition. Short-lived improvements in alertness were observed immediately following several standing (50%) and pedaling (100%) interruptions.

Conclusion: Prolonged sitting increases discomfort while brief standing and pedaling interruptions attenuate impairments in discomfort among sedentary workers.

Department of Health and Human Physiology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa (Mr Benzo, Dr Carr); and Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa (Drs Kruse, Hughes, Casey).

Address correspondence to: Lucas J. Carr, PhD, Department of Health and Human Physiology, University of Iowa, E116 Field House Building, 225 South Grand Avenue, Iowa City, IA 52242 (

This research was supported, in part, by a pilot project research training grant from the Heartland Center for Occupational Health and Safety at the University of Iowa. The Heartland Center is supported by Training Grant No. T42OH008491 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

The results of our study are presented clearly, honestly, and without fabrication, falsification, or inappropriate data manipulation.

The authors have declared no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2018 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine