Randomized controlled pilot of an intervention to reduce and break-up overweight/obese adults' overall sitting-time

Trials. 2015 Nov 2:16:490. doi: 10.1186/s13063-015-1015-4.


Background: Too much prolonged sitting is a prevalent health risk among adults. Interventions have focused mainly on the workplace, with limited attention to non-work settings. The effectiveness of a short-term intervention to reduce and break-up sitting-time in overweight/obese adults was examined. This pilot study sought to determine the feasibility of interrupting sitting to stand/ambulate objectively with ActivPAL devices which provide a valid measurement of sit/stand transitions.

Methods: This is a cross-over randomized controlled pilot that included 10 participants (aged 37-65 years) and although a small and short-term intervention (1-week intervention; no washout) further informs on the feasibility of interventions on a larger scale. At the workplace, screen-delivered hourly alerts prompted participants to break-up sitting-time through adopting walking behaviors (approximately 30-60 minutes day(-1)). During transportation/home/leisure-time individual goals for steps day(-1) were set and sitting-reduction strategies (including behavioral self-monitoring) were delivered through daily text messages. Change in inclinometer-derived sitting-time is the main outcome. Standing, stepping, number of sit/stand transitions and participant satisfaction were also examined.

Results: For the intervention compared to the control-week (mean difference (95 % confidence interval); p value), participants had less sitting-time (1.85 hours (0.96-2.75); p = 0.001), more standing (0.77 hours (0.06-1.48); p = 0.036), and more stepping (1.09 hours (0.79- 1.38); p < 0.001). Importantly, there was no change in the total number of sit/stand transitions (3.28 (-2.33-8.89); p = 0.218) despite successfully reducing sitting-time and increasing time spent standing and walking.

Conclusions: Sitting-time in overweight/obese adults can be reduced following a brief multi-component intervention based on prompts, telephone support, goal setting and behavioral self-monitoring. However, the results from this pilot study provide new insight that when overweight/obese adults attempted to reduce sedentary-time by walking and standing for approximately 2 hour day(-1) more than usual, they did not actually get up from sitting more often (i.e. increasing the number of sit/stand transitions), but instead remained on their feet for longer during each non-sitting bout. This behavioral resistance to make more sit/stand transitions (i.e. get-up from sitting more often) may have important implications for future modification programs and supports the concept that when overweight/obese people are sitting, people seem to prefer not to interrupt the sedentary behavior to get-up from sitting.

Trial registration: 26 November 2013, ClinicalTrials.govID: NCT02007681 (first participant was randomized on 2 September 2013).

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actigraphy / instrumentation
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Goals
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity*
  • Obesity / diagnosis
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Occupational Health
  • Overweight / diagnosis
  • Overweight / physiopathology*
  • Overweight / psychology
  • Pilot Projects
  • Portugal
  • Reminder Systems*
  • Risk Reduction Behavior*
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Self Care
  • Telephone
  • Text Messaging
  • Time Factors
  • Walking*
  • Workplace

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02007681