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Nicholas D. Gilson, Caitlin Hall, Angela Renton, Norman Ng and William von Hippel

Background:

This pilot study investigated the links between psychobiological indicators of work productivity, prolonged desk sitting, and conditions whereby office workers were able to interrupt sitting using a sit–stand or treadmill desk.

Methods:

Twenty participants visited our laboratory and completed their own desk work in counterbalanced sit-only, sit–stand (Varidesk Pro Plus 48™), and sit–walk conditions (Infiniti TR1200-DTS™). Steady-state visually evoked potentials calculated from electroencephalography recordings during a set task at the end of the workday assessed attentional resource. Salivary cortisol samples were taken during the morning and afternoon to measure stress response. Within-subject analyses were used to compare work productivity indicators relative to condition.

Results:

No significant differences in mean steady-state visually evoked potential amplitude were observed, although attentional resource allocation was found to be the most effective following the sit–stand [1.01 (0.46) μV] compared with the sit–walk [0.9 (0.28) μV] and sit-only [0.91 (0.32) μV] conditions. The mean magnitude of decrease in cortisol was most apparent when workers used treadmill (1.5 nmol/L; P = .007) and sit–stand (1.6 nmol/L; P = .001) desks, and least evident in the sit-only condition (1.0 nmol/L; P = .146).

Conclusions:

The findings highlight the potential benefits of standing or active deskwork to the allocation of attentional resources and the regulation of stress.