Are We Chained to Our Desks? Describing Desk-Based Sitting Using a Novel Measure of Occupational Sitting

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Prolonged occupational sitting is related to poor health outcomes. Detailed data on sitting time at desks are required to understand and effectively influence occupational sitting habits.


Full-time office employees were recruited (n = 105; mean age 40.9 ± 11.5 years; BMI 26.1 ± 3.9, 65% women). Sitting at the desk and in other work contexts was measured using a sitting pad and ActivPAL for an entire working week. Employees used a diary to record work hours. Time spent at work, sitting at work and at the desk; number of sit to stand transitions at the desk; and number of bouts of continuous sitting at the desk < 20 and > 60 minutes, were calculated.


Average time spent at work was 8.7 ± 0.8 hours/day with 67% spent sitting at the desk (5.8 ± 1.2 hours/day), and 4% in other workplace settings. On average, employees got up from their desks 3 times/hour (29 ± 13/day). Sitting for more than 60 consecutive minutes occurred infrequently (0.69 ± 0.62 times/day), with most sit to stands (80%; 23 ± 14) occurring before 20 minutes of continual sitting.


The findings provide highly detailed insights into desk-based sitting habits, highlighting large proportions of time spent sitting at desks, but with frequent interruptions.

The authors are with the School of Human Movement Studies, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. Ryde ( is corresponding author.