Employees are not aware of the specific health risks of prolonged sitting - pioneering research has found.
The study, which was led by Dr Stuart Flint in the Carnegie School of Sport at Leeds Beckett University, looked at employees’ sitting behaviour in the workplace and spoke to workers about how they felt their sitting for long periods at work might affect their health.
The results showed that all participants perceived that prolonged sitting time was associated with poorer health and well-being at work but, when asked what problems it caused, came up with examples including back and neck pain, dry eyes, poor posture, weight gain, fatigue and reduced concentration.
In fact, a recent study concluded that increased sedentary time is associated with a greater risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cardiovascular mortality and all-cause mortality.
Dr Flint, a psychologist with a specific interest in psychosocial effects of obesity, said: “One of the issues we found whilst carrying out our research is that, in a business-driven workplace, the feasibility of reducing employee sitting time yet maintaining work productivity is a key challenge.
“Personal determinants, the workplace environment and organisational culture are key to reducing employees’ sitting time. Future workplace interventions should consider the corporate and organisational culture as it is this which impacts greatly on employees’ willingness to adopt healthier behaviours at work.”
The Leeds Beckett University research is the first UK examination of employee perceptions of prolonged sitting in the workplace.
It is estimated that employees spend more than half their day sitting down.