A feasibility study to introduce regular activity breaks in the workplace: monitoring adherence to regular activity breaks
Background: The last five decades has seen a steady increase in the time spent in sedentary behaviour, with the workplace quickly becoming one of the biggest contributors to daily sedentary time. Prolonged sedentary behaviour has been shown to increase the risk of a number of health conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and all cause mortality. Recent studies have found that regular light activity breaks throughout the day may be an effective intervention in reducing the cardiometabolic risk associated with prolonged sitting.There are currently few studies examining regular activity breaks in a workplace setting. Consequently, the aims of this thesis are; to assess the feasibility of incorporating regular activity breaks in an occupational setting, and investigate the effectiveness of different methods on reducing sedentary behavior and encouraging regular activity breaks within the workplace.Methods: Twelve employees from the University of Otago participated in this research which involved a five-week intervention aimed at breaking sedentary behaviour through incorporating light activity breaks. Participants were encouraged to take at least a two-minute activity break every 30 minutes. Participants were reminded to take their breaks through the use of a break reminder mobile phone application which notified the participants every 30 minutes to ensure they took the recommended number of breaks. Results: Following the intervention of encouraged light physical activity breaks, the participants significantly increased their mean number of breaks per week from 12.4 to 15.8 breaks (SD ± 1.8; ± 2.7 respectively; P<0.001), equating to an increase of 21%. The factors which were shown to act as a barrier to the participants completing the light physical activity breaks were; workplace culture, workplace structure and habitual activity. Conclusion: In conclusion, the current study provides evidence that taking regular two-minute activity breaks throughout the workday is feasible for full-time office workers in a university setting. Due to the high baseline number of breaks per day it is unlikely that the intervention would have induced any metabolic changes which have previously been presented within the literature.
Advisor: Perry, Tracy; Skeaff, Murray; Peddie, Meredith
Degree Name: Master of Dietetics
Degree Discipline: Human Nutrition
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: sedentary; sitting; activity breaks; sedentary behaviour; occupational sedentary behaviour; workplace; intervention
Research Type: Thesis