It takes more than stand-up desks to beat 'chair disease,' according to study

January 30, 2014 by Kate Gadenne, University of Queensland
It takes more than stand-up desks to beat ‘chair disease,' according to study

(Medical Xpress)—It takes more than stand-up work stations for office staff to combat "chair disease" from sitting too long, a new study has found.

A study from The University of Queensland, led by researcher Maike Neuhaus, found that a multicomponent intervention program was far more effective in getting office staff to stand up, than stand-up work stations alone.

"Prolonged sitting increases the risks of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, obesity and musculoskeletal symptoms, and some cancers," Ms Neuhaus said.

The study evaluated two different strategies to help desk-based office workers to stand up, sit less, and move more, and found that a multicomponent intervention was the key to success.

"Because so little is known about best-practice approaches, we compared two different interventions against a control group.

"One group of participants was provided height-adjustable workstations while the second group was provided the same workstations, but with additional individual and workplace support strategies," she said.

"The strategies included management consultations, worker education on the dangers of prolonged sitting, individual health coaching, and brainstorming to identify opportunities to sit less, such as standing meetings or visiting colleagues instead of emailing them."

Ms Neuhaus said staff who received the multicomponent intervention had a substantially greater reduction in sitting time.

"This is important information for organisations keen to improve the health of employees, and indicates that changing habits may not be as simple as providing new desks," Ms Neuhaus said.

"Sitting habits are ingrained in routines and we found that workers acting alone may feel awkward when standing during meetings, or at their desk," Ms Neuhaus said.

"Workplace advocates or champions can be useful to remind others of the importance of regular postural changes and to ensure management and colleagues are supportive of standing and moving around."

Explore further: Different desks offset idle worker behaviour

More information: "Workplace Sitting and Height-Adjustable Workstations: A Randomized Controlled Trial." Maike Neuhaus, Genevieve N. Healy, David W. Dunstan, Neville Owen, Elizabeth G. Eakin. American Journal of Preventive Medicine - January 2014 Vol. 46, Issue 1, Pages 30-40, DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2013.09.009

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