Effect of Using a Sit-Stand Desk on Ratings of Discomfort, Fatigue, and Sleepiness Across a Simulated Workday in Overweight and Obese Adults

J Phys Act Health. 2018 Oct 1;15(10):788-794. doi: 10.1123/jpah.2017-0639. Epub 2018 Aug 24.


Background: Limited research examines the influence of sit-stand desks on ratings of discomfort, sleepiness, and fatigue. This study evaluated the time course of these outcomes over 1 day.

Methods: Adults (N = 25) completed a randomized cross-over study in a laboratory with two 8-hour workday conditions: (1) prolonged sitting (SIT) and (2) alternating sitting and standing every 30 minutes (SIT-STAND). Sleepiness was assessed hourly. Discomfort, physical fatigue, and mental fatigue were measured every other hour. Linear mixed models evaluated whether these measures differed across conditions and the workday. Effect sizes were calculated using Cohen's d.

Results: Participants were primarily white (84%) males (64%), with mean (SD) body mass index of 31.9 (5.0) kg/m2 and age 42 (12) years. SIT-STAND resulted in decreased odds of discomfort (OR = 0.37, P = .01) and lower overall discomfort (β = -0.19, P < .001, d = 0.42) versus SIT. Discomfort during SIT-STAND was lower in the lower and upper back, but higher in the legs (all Ps< .01, d = 0.26-0.42). Sleepiness (β = -0.09, P = .01, d = 0.15) and physical fatigue (β = -0.34, P = .002, d = 0.34) were significantly lower in SIT-STAND. Mental fatigue was similar across conditions.

Conclusions: Sit-stand desks may reduce acute levels of sleepiness, physical fatigue, and both overall and back discomfort. However, levels of lower extremity discomfort may be increased with acute exposure.

Keywords: musculoskeletal health; physical activity; sedentary behavior; sitting/standing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Fatigue*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal Physiological Phenomena
  • Obesity*
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Sitting Position
  • Sleepiness
  • Standing Position*
  • Workplace / statistics & numerical data*