“Sit Less ScHARR!”, an intervention by MPH Student Kelly Mackenzie, started this week. Running until 1st August, the programme aims to reduce the amount of time ScHARR staff spend sitting during working hours. We spoke to Kelly, and asked her about how she came up with the idea for Sit Less ScHARR!
“I have always been interested in physical activity and the variety of positive impacts it can have on health and whilst completing a Masters in Physical Activity for Health (at Sheffield Hallam University), I got involved in a piece of research focusing on sedentary behaviour, where I looked at barriers to reducing sitting time in the workplace amongst SHU employees. Furthermore, this work coincided with a change in my circumstances, as I moved from a very active job to a desk-based job, so I had a vested interest in the work!
When I then got the opportunity to complete a Masters in Public Health here at ScHARR, I was keen to test out an intervention to reduce sitting in the workplace and so, as part of my dissertation, Sit Less ScHARR! commenced earlier this week.
There has been lots of research looking into the benefits of physical activity and it is widely acknowledged that carrying out regular exercise provides health benefits. However, the negative consequences of prolonged sitting have only recently been highlighted. Importantly, prolonged sitting has been found to be an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers, as well as musculoskeletal problems and this is regardless of the amount of physical activity undertaken.
Given that work has become much more desk-based and that adults spend >60% of their day in the workplace, it seemed appropriate to target sitting in their place of work. Furthermore, given the type of work that ScHARR is involved in, the employees of ScHARR could lead by example for the rest of the university and beyond.
Sit Less ScHARR! is a pilot study which will be running for 4 weeks (ending on Friday 1st August). I have 24 staff members who have volunteered to complete questionnaires and sitting logs in order to obtain both quantitative and qualitative data. Of the 24 volunteers, there were also a sub-group of 10 staff members who helped me develop the intervention and who will be acting as workplace champions to encourage and support others to reducing workplace sitting.
The aim of Sit Less ScHARR! is to reduce the amount of time ScHARR staff spend sitting whilst at work. The potential benefits of this are improved physical and mental health and wellbeing, but also some studies have shown that reducing time spent sitting results in increased productivity. I am hoping that this pilot will form the basis for a bigger piece of work and possibly a PhD, so watch this space!”
Each week staff will be emailed a “Top Tip” on how to reduce the amount of time we spend sitting at work. This week’s top tip:
Try setting reminders on your computer to stand-up / move away from your desk for a 5 minutes every hour. These can double up as time management tools too.You can do this using the following websites: