SMArT Work: Stand More AT Work Increased Work Engagement and Quality of Life

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr Fehmidah Munir CPsychol, AFBPsS

Reader in Health Psychology
Athena SWAN School Champion
School of Sport, Exercise & Health Sciences
National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine
Loughborough University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Given the evidence of the harmful effects of high levels of sitting time on health and the high proportion of time the majority of adults spend in this behaviour, particularly in the workplace, methods to reduce overall and prolonged sitting were needed.

Our SMArT Work (Stand More AT Work) programme was delivered to NHS office workers and involved brief education about the impact of sitting on health and benefits of reducing sitting, feedback on sitting behaviour, providing staff with a height-adjustable desk to enable them to work either standing up or sitting down, motivational posters and brief chats with a researcher to see how they were getting on. They received this programme over 12 months.

We found that office workers in our study spent nearly 10 hours/day sitting down, which can be bad for health, but we’ve shown that those office workers who received our SMArT Work programme had lower sitting time by around 80mins per day after 12 months compared to those who didn’t receive our programme. Those who received SMArT Work also reported an increase in work engagement, job performance and quality of life and less musculoskeletal issues such as back and neck pain, they felt less tired after a day at work, had less feelings of anxiety and lower sickness presenteeism (working whilst sick). We didn’t find any differences in the number of days absent at work though. Whether you work remotely from home or in an office environment, it may also be good to invest in new Office Furniture. This could also help combat the issue of back and neck pains that you may be experiencing.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Given the evidence of the harmful effects of high levels of sitting time on health and the high proportion of time the majority of adults spend in this behaviour, particularly in the workplace, methods to reduce overall and prolonged sitting were needed. Our SMArT Work programme was delivered to NHS office workers and involved brief education about the impact of sitting on health and benefits of reducing sitting, feedback on sitting behaviour, providing staff with a height-adjustable desk to enable them to work either standing up or sitting down, motivational posters and brief chats with a researcher to see how they were getting on. They received this programme over 12 months.

We found that office workers in our study spent nearly 10 hours/day sitting down, which can be bad for health, but we’ve shown that those office workers who received our SMArT Work programme had lower sitting time by around 80mins per day after 12 months compared to those who didn’t receive our programme. Those who received SMArT Work also reported an increase in work engagement, job performance and quality of life and less musculoskeletal issues such as back and neck pain, they felt less tired after a day at work, had less feelings of anxiety and lower sickness presenteeism (working whilst sick). We didn’t find any differences in the number of days absent at work though.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: At the moment the research is unclear on whether simply replacing some time spent sitting with standing is enough to improve metabolic health, such as glucose and cholesterol in metabolically healthy people. So more research is needed on with this group. In contrast, research on those who are metabolically unhealthy, for example, those have high glucose levels, does suggest that replacing some time spent sitting with standing is enough to improve metabolic health. Nevertheless, in our study standing did appear to have many benefits in other aspects such as work-related outcomes, fatigue, musculoskeletal issues and quality of life

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: In response to the study findings and the fantastic feedback from the participants, the SMArT Work resources will be freely available on the programme website very soon for organisations to access. We want other people to be able to benefit from this programme. Check out our websitewww.smartworkandlife.co.uk

This project was funded by the Department of Health Policy Research Programme (project number PR-R5-0213-25004). The research was supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre which is a partnership between University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Loughborough University and the University of Leicester, the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care – East Midlands (NIHR CLAHRC – EM) and the Leicester Clinical Trials Unit.

Citations:

Munir F, Biddle, SJH, Davies, MJ, Dunstan D, Esliger D, Gray LJ, Jackson BR, O-Connell SE, Yates T, Edwardson CL. (2018). Stand More AT Work (SMArT Work): using the behaviour change wheel to develop an intervention to reduce sitting time in the workplace. BMC Public Health, 18:319. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-018-5187-1

Nielsen K. Yarker J, Munir F, Bultmann U (2018). IGLOO: An integrated framework for sustainable return to work in workers with common mental health disorders. Work & Stress,https://doi.org/10.1080/02678373.2018.1438536

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1 thought on “SMArT Work: Stand More AT Work Increased Work Engagement and Quality of Life

  1. After years working on computer on daily basis I came to the same idea and bought a standing desk. It really helps me to reduce back pain (and neck pain as well). But you can’t work all day long by standing. So, please try to split it into 2 phases (or even 4). 50% of time by sitting and 50% – by standing.
    But in the first week try to work by standing shorter period of time. 15-30mins or so. It’ll be a bit painful first time, but after weeks you’ll feel fine 🙂
    And I’ve also seen some collection of desks here:
    https://zenworkpro.com/2018/01/14/computer-desk

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