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Marie-Louise Bird, Cecilia Shing, Casey Mainsbridge, Dean Cooley and Scott Pedersen

Background:

Sedentary behavior is related to metabolic syndrome and might have implications for the long-term health of workers in a low activity environment. The primary aim of this pilot study was to determine activity levels of adults working at a University during work hours. A secondary aim was to determine the relationship between actual and perceived activity levels.

Methods:

Activity levels of university staff (n = 15, male = 7, age = 53 ± 7 years, BMI = 26.5 ± 2.5kg·m2) were monitored over 5 consecutive workdays using SenseWear accelerometers, then participants completed a questionnaire of their perception of workplace sedentary time.

Results:

Each participant spent 71.5 ± 13.1% (358 ± 78 min) of their workday being sedentary (< 1.5 METs), 15.6 ± 9.0% involved in light activity (1.5–3 METs), 11.7 ± 10.0% in moderate activity (3–5 METs), and 1.1 ± 1.3% in vigorous activity (> 5 METs) (P < .0001). The mean difference between actual (SenseWear < 1.5 METs) and perceived sitting time was –2 ± 32%; however, perceived sedentary time was reported with a range of under-to-over estimation of –75% to 51%.

Conclusion:

This pilot study identifies long periods of low metabolic activity during the workday and poor perception of individual sedentary time. Interventions to reduce sedentary time in the workplace may be necessary to ensure that the work environment does not adversely affect long-term health.