Impact of sit-stand desks at work on energy expenditure and sedentary time: a feasibility study

  • E. Mantzari
  • K. Wijndaele
  • S. Brage
  • S. Griffin
  • T. Marteau


Background: Sitting time, a risk factor for disease and premature mortality, is high amongst office-based workers. The use of sit-stand desks could reduce workplace sitting but key uncertainties remain about their impact. This study assessed the feasibility of running an RCT on the impact of sit-stand desks at work on energy expenditure and longer-term sitting time. Methods: Office-based employees from two companies in Cambridge, England completed a survey to assess trial participation interest. The workspaces of 100 of those interested were assessed for sit-stand desk suitability and 20 participants were randomised to the use of sit-stand desks at work for three months or existing workplace desks. Outcomes included energy expenditure, sitting time, cardio-metabolic, anthropometric and other outcomes relating to health and work performance. Participants were also interviewed about their sit-stand desk use experiences. Results: Recruitment and trial implementation were feasible: 92% of survey respondents were interested in participating; 80% of assessed workspaces were suitable for sit-stand desk installation; desks were installed with minimal disruptions to work; conducting all assessments in workplaces was feasible. The interviews revealed insights into the factors affecting desk use, including, the office ‘culture’, sit-stand desk familiarity and personal working practices. Discussion: The results of this feasibility study provide the basis for conducting an RCT involving 500 participants, to assess the impact of sit-stand desks on energy expenditure and workplace sitting. The findings of this RCT are expected to inform discussions regarding sit-stand desks’ potential to alleviate the harm to cardio-metabolic health arising from prolonged sitting.
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