University Of Tasmania

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Effect of standing or walking at a workstation on cognitive function: a randomized counterbalanced trial

Objective: In the present study, we examined the effect of working while seated, while standing, or while walking on measures of short-term memory, working memory, selective and sustained attention, and information-processing speed.

Background: The advent of computer-based technology has revolutionized the adult workplace, such that average adult full-time employees spend the majority of their working day seated. Prolonged sitting is associated with increasing obesity and chronic health conditions in children and adults. One possible intervention to reduce the negative health impacts of the modern office environment involves modifying the workplace to increase incidental activity and exercise during the workday. Although modifications, such as sit-stand desks, have been shown to improve physiological function, there is mixed information regarding the impact of such office modification on individual cognitive performance and thereby the efficiency of the work environment.

Method: In a fully counterbalanced randomized control trial, we assessed the cognitive performance of 45 undergraduate students for up to a 1-hr period in each condition.

Results: The results indicate that there is no significant change in the measures used to assess cognitive performance associated with working while seated, while standing, or while walking at low intensity.

Conclusion: These results indicate that cognitive performance is not degraded with short-term use of alternate workstations.


Publication title

Human Factors








School of Psychological Sciences


Pergamon Press

Place of publication

United States

Rights statement

Copyright 2015 Human Factors and Ergonomics Society

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in psychology