Sedentary Office Work

The nature of office and computer work contributes to a sedentary lifestyle, and health scientists attribute a sedentary lifestyle with poor health outcomes. Time spent in a sedentary position is associated with cardiovascular conditions, cancer, and type II diabetes, as well as mortality from all causes.

Office ergonomics is the science of optimizing the human use of office products like computers, desks, and chairs. Poor worksite design can contribute to worker fatigue and injury. Computer use has been associated with health symptoms such as body pain, aches, stiffness, pulled or overworked muscles, fatigue, and more. To reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injury in the office, the consensus among leading experts has been to encourage regular work breaks or to vary the work postures.

SHARP is currently studying the effectiveness of office ergonomics as well as intervention strategies that support the health of office workers. The goal is to provide information for informed decision making to the public.

Sit-Stand Workstation Research

Sit-stand desks are height-adjustable and allow the user to perform office work either sitting or standing, as they wish. Sit-stand desks have been introduced in many workplaces as a solution to the health risks that can come from prolonged seated work. Because evidence-based guidance on the proper use of sit-stand desks is lacking, SHARP conducted a study to explore the optimal amount of time office workers should spend between sit and stand postures. Office workers in the study reported a range of time they preferred to sit, from equal time spent sitting or standing up to a preference of 3 times more minutes spent seated compared to standing. One important finding from the study was how workers spent their breaks; the more workers moved during the day the lower the effect of prolonged-seated work was on the body.


Journal Articles

Gonzales, A., Lin, J.-H., and Cha, J. (2022). Physical activity changes among office workers during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and the agreement between objective and subjective physical activity metrics. Applied Ergonomics, 105, doi.org/10.1016/j.apergo.2022.103845.

Lin J-H and Bao S (2019). The effect of sit-stand schedules on office work productivity: A pilot study.  WorkDOI: 10.3233/WOR-193017.  Research Findings

Lin J-H and Bao S (2018). Sit-Stand Workstations: Are They a Solution to Musculoskeletal Stress? Professional Safety. 63(10), 75-77.

Bao S and Lin J-H (2017). An investigation into four different sit-stand workstation use schedules. Ergonomics. DOI: 10.1080/00140139.2017.1353139.

Lin J-H, Harris-Adamson C, Bao S, Rempel D, Cavuoto L, Robertson MM, and Honan M (2017). Alternative workstations: magic pills for office worker health? Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 2017 International Annual Meeting. October 9-13, Austin, TX, USA. DOI: 10.1177/1541931213601595.

Prevention Materials

Study found limited effectiveness of sit-stand desks