FRIDAY, Aug. 19, 2022 (HealthDay News) — An intervention can reduce sitting time at work, with greater improvement with the use of a height-adjustable desk, according to a study published online Aug. 17 in The BMJ.

Charlotte L. Edwardson, Ph.D., from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a three-arm randomized controlled trial with follow-up at three and 12 months involving 756 desk-based employees in 78 clusters. Clusters were randomly assigned to the SMART Work and Life (SWAL) intervention, the SWAL intervention with a height-adjustable desk (SWAL plus desk), or usual practice (control).

The researchers found that at 12 months, daily sitting time was significantly lower in the intervention groups than the control group (−22.2 and −63.7 min/day with SWAL and SWAL plus desk, respectively). For changing sitting time, the SWAL-plus-desk intervention was more effective than the SWAL intervention (−41.7 min/day). During work hours and on workdays, favorable differences in sitting and prolonged sitting time were seen at three- and 12-month follow-ups in both intervention groups and in standing time for the SWAL-plus-desk group. Small improvements in stress, well-being, and vigor were seen in both intervention groups, while the SWAL-plus-desk group had improvements in pain in the lower extremity, social norms for sitting and standing at work, and support.

“Both intervention groups (SWAL with and without a desk) sat less than the control group (usual practice) in the short and medium term; furthermore, those receiving the height-adjustable desk alongside the intervention sat less than those receiving the intervention only,” the authors write.

One author is coinventor of the activPAL3 physical activity monitor and a director of PAL Technologies.

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