The International Universities Walking Project: Employee step counts, sitting times and health status

Nicholas Gilson, Jim McKenna, Anna Puig-Ribera, Wendy Brown, Nicola Burton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Awareness of potential health impact and variations in key risk factors for chronic disease are important considerations in multi-site, workplace physical activity interventions. This study seeks to examine associations and site variations between workday step counts, sitting times, waist circumference and blood pressure in three universities. Participants were white-collar, university employees (172 women and 44 men; aged 41.0±10.3 years) from Barcelona, Spain (n=81), Brisbane, Australia (n=71) and Leeds, UK (n=64). Workday step counts and sitting times (five days) and waist circumference and blood pressure were assessed and compared against health-related thresholds. Step counts were classified into tertiles and differences in sitting time, waist circumference and blood pressure were compared across tertiles using ANOVA, as were site variations in key variables. Daily step counts were inversely associated with sitting times (p<0.05), women's waist circumference (p<0.05) and systolic (p<0.01) and diastolic (p<0.05) blood pressure. Activity rates — relative to the public health criterion of 10,000 daily steps — were lower in Brisbane (16 per cent) and Leeds (15 per cent), compared with Barcelona (47 per cent). Barcelona employees also sat less (p<0.001), had lower men's and women's waist circumference (p<0.01) and lower women's diastolic blood pressure (p<0.001). The small number of male participants precluded meaningful analyses for men. The findings evidence the health benefits of workplace walking in the samples and highlight the need to account for variations in multi-site, multi-national interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-161
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Workplace Health Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 26 Sept 2008
Externally publishedYes


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