Background: Little is known about how sitting time, alone or in combination with markers of physical activity (PA), influences mental well-being and work productivity. Given the need to develop workplace PA interventions that target employees' health related efficiency outcomes; this study examined the associations between self-reported sitting time, PA, mental well-being and work productivity in office employees.
Methods: Descriptive cross-sectional study. Spanish university office employees (n = 557) completed a survey measuring socio-demographics, total and domain specific (work and travel) self-reported sitting time, PA (International Physical Activity Questionnaire short version), mental well-being (Warwick-Edinburg Mental Well-Being Scale) and work productivity (Work Limitations Questionnaire). Multivariate linear regression analyses determined associations between the main variables adjusted for gender, age, body mass index and occupation. PA levels (low, moderate and high) were introduced into the model to examine interactive associations.
Results: Higher volumes of PA were related to higher mental well-being, work productivity and spending less time sitting at work, throughout the working day and travelling during the week, including the weekends (p < 0.05). Greater levels of sitting during weekends was associated with lower mental well-being (p < 0.05). Similarly, more sitting while travelling at weekends was linked to lower work productivity (p < 0.05). In highly active employees, higher sitting times on work days and occupational sitting were associated with decreased mental well-being (p < 0.05). Higher sitting times while travelling on weekend days was also linked to lower work productivity in the highly active (p < 0.05). No significant associations were observed in low active employees.
Conclusions: Employees' PA levels exerts different influences on the associations between sitting time, mental well-being and work productivity. The specific associations and the broad sweep of evidence in the current study suggest that workplace PA strategies to improve the mental well-being and productivity of all employees should focus on reducing sitting time alongside efforts to increase PA.