An e-health intervention designed to increase workday energy expenditure by reducing prolonged occupational sitting habits

Work. 2014;49(2):289-95. doi: 10.3233/WOR-131644.


Background: Desk-based employees face multiple workplace health hazards such as insufficient physical activity and prolonged sitting.

Objective: The objective of this study was to increase workday energy expenditure by interrupting prolonged occupational sitting time and introducing short-bursts of physical activity to employees' daily work habits.

Methods: Over a 13-week period participants (n=17) in the intervention group were regularly exposed to a passive prompt delivered through their desktop computer that required them to stand up and engage in a short-burst of physical activity, while the control group (n=17) was not exposed to this intervention. Instead, the control group continued with their normal work routine. All participants completed a pre- and post- intervention survey to estimate workplace daily energy expenditure (calories).

Results: There was a significant 2 (Group) × 2 (Test) interaction, F (1, 32)=9.26, p < 0.05. The intervention group increased the calories expended during the workday from pre-test (M=866.29 ± 151.40) to post-test (M=1054.10 ± 393.24), whereas the control group decreased calories expended during the workday from pre-test (M=982.55 ± 315.66) to post-test (M=892.21 ± 255.36).

Conclusions: An e-health intervention using a passive prompt was an effective mechanism for increasing employee work-related energy expenditure. Engaging employees in regular short-bursts of physical activity during the workday resulted in reduced sitting time, which may have long-term effects on the improvement of employee health.

Keywords: Workplace health and wellbeing; employee health; physical activity; prompts; sedentary behavior.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity
  • Occupational Health / standards
  • Occupational Injuries / prevention & control
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Time Factors