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713. The sedentary office: a growing case for change towards better health and productivity. Expert statement commissioned by Public Health England and the Active Working Community Interest Company

Research Article
John P Buckley, Alan Hedge, Thomas Yates, Robert J Copeland, Michael Loosemore, Mark Hamer, Gavin Bradley, David W Dunstan
July 2015

Commentary by Dr Josephine Chau, Heart Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Prevention Research Collaboration, School of Public Health, The University of Sydney, Australia

This paper reports on a position statement about reducing sedentary behaviour at work and the underlying rationale. Sedentary behaviour, or prolonged sitting, as distinct from a lack of physical activity, is a risk factor for non-communicable diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and premature mortality.

Buckley and colleagues have calculated a specific amount of sitting time for which harmful health effects occur (2-4h/day). These recommendations are of interest to researchers and practitioners in the fields of physical activity and sedentary behaviour and in workplace settings specifically. They are also a marked contrast to other recently updated national physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines, such as those from Australia, which recommend broadly that adults should minimise the amount of time they spend in prolonged sitting and break up prolonged periods of sitting as much as possible. This highlights the fast pace at which the sedentary behaviour literature base is developing, as well as the ongoing discussion around harm thresholds, durations and frequencies of sitting periods and breaks. Furthermore, the feasibility of Buckley and colleagues’ recommendations remain to be examined in light of evidence from recent meta-analytic reviews finding reductions in adult sedentary/sitting time ranging from -24min/day for lifestyle interventions to -77min/8-hour workday for interventions with activity permissive workstations. 

This work was commissioned by Public Health England and the Active Working Community Interest Group, UK. The aim was to provide a starting point to guide research and practice, and to stimulate discussion about creating less sedentary and more active workplaces. The authors acknowledge the limitation of their conclusions which were based predominantly on evidence from observational studies, cross-sectional studies, and short term interventions. However, they clarify that these recommendations are a work-in-progress and will be refined based on the publication of new evidence in the future. 

Source: British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2015, Online First. Access to this article will depend on your institutional rights. Click here to access the full article.