Study: Key Interventions to ‘Reduce Workplace Sitting’

Regular readers of this blog know that among the keys to a well-run workplace wellness program is incorporating movement — or the reduction of workplace sitting — into the program design.

For example, we cited a New York Times report, that indicated that employees who are always wandering — or pacing — around may be the ones to emulate, and insight that could provide important insights into a well-run workplace wellness program.

We also noted a study titled “Prolonged sitting negatively affects the postprandial plasma triglyceride-lowering effect of acute exercise.” It concludes that the test results “[underscore] the importance of limiting sitting time even in people who have exercised.”

But a challenge for workplace wellness programs also can be engagement — even a well-designed program has to get employees out of their seats.

The study is titled “Intervening to reduce workplace sitting: mediating role of social-cognitive constructs during a cluster randomised controlled trial” and is published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.

As background, “the Stand Up Victoria multi-component intervention successfully reduced workplace sitting time in both the short (three months) and long (12 months) term. To further understand how this intervention worked, we aimed to assess the impact of the intervention on four social-cognitive constructs, and examined whether these constructs mediated intervention effects on workplace sitting time at 3 and 12 months post-baseline.”

The researchers took a thorough approach:

“Two hundred and thirty one office-based workers (14 worksites, single government employer) were randomised to intervention or control conditions by worksite. The intervention comprised organisational, environmental, and individual level elements. Participant characteristics and social-cognitive constructs (perceived behavioural control, barrier self-efficacy, perceived organisational norms and knowledge) were measured through a self-administered online survey at baseline, 3 months and 12 months.”

The results provide insights into how to motivate employees not only to understand the importance of movement in the workplace, but also how to take action:

“Strategies that aim to increase workers’ perceived control and self-efficacy over their sitting time may be helpful components of sedentary behavior interventions in the workplace.”

The study further notes:

“However, social-cognitive factors only partially explain variation in workplace sitting reduction. Understanding the importance of other levels of influence (particularly interpersonal and environmental) for initiating and maintaining workplace sedentary behavior change will be informative for intervention development and refinement.”