Br J Sports Med 48:1037-1042 doi:10.1136/bjsports-2014-093524
  • Original article

Intervening to reduce workplace sitting time: how and when do changes to sitting time occur?

  1. Genevieve N Healy1,8,9
  1. 1Cancer Prevention Research Centre, School of Population Health, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  2. 2School of Human Movement Studies, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  3. 3Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  4. 4School of Public Health & Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  5. 5School of Sport Science, Exercise & Health, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  6. 6School of Exercise & Sports Science, Deakin University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  7. 7School of Health and Life Science, Institute of Applied Health Research, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK
  8. 8Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  9. 9Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Physiotherapy, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Samantha K Stephens, Cancer Prevention Research Centre, School of Population Health, The University of Queensland, Herston Road, Herston, QLD 4006, Australia; samantha.stephens{at}
  • Accepted 18 April 2014
  • Published Online First 9 May 2014


Objective To investigate how and when changes in workplace sitting time occurred following a workplace intervention to inform evaluation of intervention success.

Method The 4-week Stand Up Comcare study (June–September 2011) aimed to reduce workplace sitting time via regularly interrupting and replacing sitting time throughout the day. Activity monitor (activPAL3) workplace data from control (n=22) and intervention participants (n=21) were analysed. Differences in the number and usual duration of sitting bouts were used to evaluate how change occurred. To examine when change occurred, intervention effects were compared by hour since starting work and hour of the workday. Change in workplace activity (sitting, standing, stepping) was examined to further inform alignment with intervention messages. Individual variability was examined in how and when the change occurred.

Results Overall, behavioural changes aligned with intervention aims. All intervention participants reduced total workplace sitting time, though there was wide individual variability observed (range −29 to −262 min per 8 h workday). On average, intervention participants reduced number of sitting bouts (−4.6 bouts (95% CI −10.1 to 1.0), p=0.106) and usual sitting bout duration (−5.6 min (95% CI −9.8 to −1.4, p=0.011)) relative to controls. Sitting time reductions were observed across the workday, though intervention effects varied by hour of the day (p=0.015). The intervention group successfully adopted the Stand Up and Sit Less intervention messages across the day.

Conclusion These analyses confirmed that this workplace intervention successfully modified sitting behaviour as intended (ie, fewer and shorter sitting bouts, with changes occurring throughout the day).

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