In modern societies, the office workplaces are characterised by low activity of sustained sedentary sitting! “Australian employees spent 77% of their working hours being sedentary.” 1
Prolonged unbroken bouts of sitting are considered to be 30 minutes and longer.1
“Sedentary ‘activity’ is defined as any waking behaviour characterized by an energy expenditure ≤1.5 METs while sitting or reclining”. 2
In contrast, the energy expenditure of men (65-kg) and women (55-kg) according to the “five-level classification of physical activity in terms of exercise intensity” are: 3
Risk factors of prolonged sitting
According to the Journal BMC Public Health, uninterrupted bouts of sitting, such as in the office workplaces, driving/traveling to work, or during television viewing times are risk factors for poor health, such as type-2 diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and even premature mortality. 2, 4
Dynamic posture = postural transition
A study published in the Journal or Ergonomics recommends postural transitions at least every 20–30 minutes. However, no participant in the study met the 20-30 minute recommendations on every office workday. 5
The postural transition is defined as NOT sitting longer than 20-30 minutes in a single bout, but rather adopting a dynamic posture, where you sit for 30 minutes, then stand for 30 minutes, and alternate this sit-stand office posture through the working day. Using a dynamic posture provides a neutral effect on mood, promotes productivity, minimise eyestrain, AND has beneficial impact on musculoskeletal health! 5
Office workers accumulate uninterrupted periods of sitting longer than current recommendations of 20-30 minutes. 5 Therefore, intervention strategies include:
- Adding more rest breaks from sitting, at least 5 minutes 6
- Include stretching exercises 6
- Promoting regular postural transitions 7
- Office workplace ergonomic changes, including the use of sit-stand workstations7
1. Thorp AA, Healy GN, Winkler E, Clark BK, Gardiner PA, Owen N, Dunstan DW. Prolonged sedentary time and physical activity in workplace and non-work contexts: a cross-sectional study of office, customer service and call centre employees. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2012;9:128.
2. Parry S, Straker L: The contribution of office work to sedentary behaviour associated risk. BMC Public Health. 2013, 13 (1): 296-10.1186/1471-2458-13-296.
3. Jetté M, Sidney K, Blümchen G (1990). Metabolic equivalents (METS) in exercise testing, exercise prescription, and evaluation of functional capacity. Clin Cardiol. 1990 Aug;13(8):555-65.
4. De Cocker K, De Bourdeaudhuij I, Cardon G, Vandelanotte C. (2016). The Effectiveness of a Web-Based Computer-Tailored Intervention on Workplace Sitting: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Med Internet Res. 31;18(5):e96
5. Ryan CG, Dall PM, Granat MH, Grant M: Sitting patterns at work: objective measurement of adherence to current recommendations. Ergonomics. 2011, 54 (6): 531-538.
6. Galinsky T, Swanson N, Sauter S, Dunkin R, Hurrell J, Schleifer L: Supplementary breaks and stretching exercises for data entry operators: a follow-up field study. Am J Ind Med. 2007, 50 (7): 519-527.
7.Gao Y, Cronin NJ, Pesola AJ, Finni T(2016). Muscle activity patterns and spinal shrinkage in office workers using a sit-stand workstation versus a sit workstation. Ergonomics;59(10):1267-1274.