“Sit Less ScHARR!”: Findings from a study to reduce sitting time amongst staff at ScHARR

By Dr Kelly Mackenzie

Sitting for long periods is linked to higher risks of health problems e.g. heart disease, diabetes, obesity, depression, neck/back problems, and early death. Sitting in the workplace can be a particular issue due to the increasing number of desk-based jobs where staff can sit for an average of six hours a day. Replacing some sitting time with light activities, such as standing and walking, could be an important way to improve the public’s health. Therefore, there was a need to develop, test and review the practicality of a package of changes in the workplace aimed at reducing time spent sitting.

sit less scharrThis small pilot study formed my Masters in Public Health dissertation project and as a result was carried out within ScHARR. The package of changes, developed with a small group of ScHARR staff, included:

Posters/prompts to remind staff to sit less

  • Emails with helpful tips of ways to sit less e.g. walking/standing meetings, regular breaks away from the desk
  • Support from management in the form of emails and “leading by example”
  • Changes to the way the workspace was used e.g. encouraging the use of toilets/printers/coffee rooms on different floors.

The findings from this study provide encouragement for the use of a low-cost package of changes to reduce workplace sitting, but are limited to health-related academic settings. As a result, I am planning on carrying out a similar study in a range of different workplaces, as a PhD Fellowship which I am currently applying for. If my application is successful, this further work will begin in October 2016.

Link to my paper: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/15/1294

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