mental health workplace wellness

Study: Workplace Programs Needed to Reduce Sitting, Increase Employee Movement

Following on our post from yesterday, which reported a study that offered key interventions to reduce workplace sitting, today a different study makes a stark conclusion about the benefits that come from workplace interventions: “Worksite support and policies are in need to reduce sedentary behavior sustainably.”

The study, titled “Work-related correlates of occupational sitting in a diverse sample of employees in Midwest metropolitan cities,” is published in Preventive Medicine Reports.

The study was generated because “The worksite serves as an ideal setting to reduce sedentary time. Yet little research has focused on occupational sitting, and few have considered factors beyond the personal or socio-demographic level. The current study i) examined variation in occupational sitting across different occupations, ii) explored whether worksite level factors (e.g., employer size, worksite supports and policies) may be associated with occupational sitting.”

The report begins with important background on the dangers of sitting:

“Sedentary behaviors are linked to adverse health outcomes such as chronic disease risk factors, the development of chronic diseases, and mortality, possibly independent from levels of physical activity. Sedentary behavior is distinct from physical inactivity. For example, prolonged sitting (i.e., occupational sitting, watching TV) may exist among people who are physically active by engaging in sufficient recreational activity. Therefore, reducing prolonged sitting time and interrupting sitting time by active breaks is recommended even for adults who meet the recommended level of physical activity.”

The study reviewed 1668 participants who lived in four Missouri metropolitan areas.

One area where workplace wellness programs might want to focus: Implementing way to encourage employees to take the stairs when possible.

The study notes: “worksite supports and policies have the potential to impact working adults’ daily behavior. The strongest (adjusted OR > 2.0) finding on worksite supports and policies is the positive association between stair prompt signage and occupational sitting across education/professional, service and office/administrative support occupations. The reported association indicated that the appearance of the stair prompt signage is associated with a 2-fold or higher likelihood of having more occupational sitting time.”

It continues: “Specifically, combining motivational and directional signs in worksites showed increased stair use in 83% of reviewed studies.”

The conclusion: “Work-related factors and worksite supports and policies are associated with occupational sitting. The pattern of association varies among different occupation groups. This exploratory work adds to the body of evidence on the worksite level correlates of occupational sitting, and may provide venues to reduce sedentary behavior through worksite intervention, targeting highly sedentary occupation groups.”