University Of Tasmania

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A randomised control trial of the cognitive effects of working in a seated as opposed to a standing position in office workers

Sedentary behaviour is increasing and has been identified as a potential significant health risk, particularly for desk-based employees. The development of sit-stand workstations in the workplace is one approach to reduce sedentary behaviour. However, there is uncertainty about the effects of sit-stand workstations on cognitive functioning. A sample of 36 university staff participated in a within-subjects randomised control trial examining the effect of sitting vs. standing for one hour per day for five consecutive days on attention, information processing speed, short-term memory, working memory and task efficiency. The results of the study showed no statistically significant difference in cognitive performance or work efficiency between the sitting and standing conditions, with all effect sizes being small to very small (all ds < .2). This result suggests that the use of sit-stand workstations is not associated with a reduction in cognitive performance.

Practitioner Summary: Although it has been reported that the use of sit-stand desks may help offset adverse health effects of prolonged sitting, there is scant evidence about changes in productivity. This randomised control study showed that there was no difference between sitting and standing for one hour on cognitive function or task efficiency in university staff.


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School of Psychological Sciences


Taylor & Francis Ltd

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United States

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Expanding knowledge in psychology