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


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.


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.


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).


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