More than 80% of adults don't meet the weekly recommended physical activity guidelines and sedentary time accounts for more than 90% of the work day. Stand-capable desks have been successful in reducing sedentary behavior and improving BMI, productivity, and cognitive function. Wearables and computer technology have been used to objectively monitor activity levels. However, this technology presents limitations including short-term data collection, non-compliance, and cost. The challenge remains to find an effective method to increase the usage of sit-stand desks. Two longitudinal, field studies were conducted to record and increase sit-stand desk utilization using computer software and health behavior change components.
Study 1 (Australia) involved 194 government office workers who had electric sit-stand desks for at least one year prior to the study. The baseline phase consisted of computer software continuously recording sit-stand desk usage during computer use and the intervention phase consisted of software reminders with personalized feedback on their habits and goals. The findings showed that there was a significant increase in desk position changes and desk standing time while reducing desk sitting time.
Study 2 (Texas A&M University) involved 47 university workers who had height-adjustable sit-stand desks for at least one year prior to the study. The study used a novel approach to record sit-stand desk data using a USB accelerometer to detect desk position. The baseline phase consisted of computer software continuously recording sit-stand desk usage during computer use and the intervention phase consisted of software reminders with personalized feedback on their habits and a gamification component. The research findings revealed that team software reminders and group result dashboards increased desk usage.
Across the board, the software reminders (with personalized feedback and a gamification element) were an effective behavioral health intervention to increase sit-stand desk usage and improve workplace sedentary behavior. These findings contribute to sedentary behavior science by providing an effective behavioral change intervention using artificial intelligence computer software to reverse office worker physical inactivity.
- Benden, Mark Associate Professor and Head