Are we chained to our desks? Describing desk-based sitting using a novel measure of occupational sitting

Gemma Cathrine Ryde*, Helen Elizabeth Brown, Nicholas David Gilson, Wendy J. Brown

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Background: 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. 

Methods: 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. 

Results: 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. 

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

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1318-1323
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Physical Activity and Health
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2014
Externally publishedYes


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