An e-health intervention designed to increase workday energy expenditure by reducing prolonged occupational sitting habits

Scott J Pedersen, Paul D Cooley, Casey Mainsbridge
Work: a Journal of Prevention, Assessment, and Rehabilitation 2014, 49 (2): 289-95

BACKGROUND: Desk-based employees face multiple workplace health hazards such as insufficient physical activity and prolonged sitting.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to increase workday energy expenditure by interrupting prolonged occupational sitting time and introducing short-bursts of physical activity to employees' daily work habits.

METHODS: Over a 13-week period participants (n=17) in the intervention group were regularly exposed to a passive prompt delivered through their desktop computer that required them to stand up and engage in a short-burst of physical activity, while the control group (n=17) was not exposed to this intervention. Instead, the control group continued with their normal work routine. All participants completed a pre- and post- intervention survey to estimate workplace daily energy expenditure (calories).

RESULTS: There was a significant 2 (Group) × 2 (Test) interaction, F (1, 32)=9.26, p < 0.05. The intervention group increased the calories expended during the workday from pre-test (M=866.29 ± 151.40) to post-test (M=1054.10 ± 393.24), whereas the control group decreased calories expended during the workday from pre-test (M=982.55 ± 315.66) to post-test (M=892.21 ± 255.36).

CONCLUSIONS: An e-health intervention using a passive prompt was an effective mechanism for increasing employee work-related energy expenditure. Engaging employees in regular short-bursts of physical activity during the workday resulted in reduced sitting time, which may have long-term effects on the improvement of employee health.

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