The effects of introducing electric adjustable height desks in an office setting on workplace physical activity levels: A randomised control field trial

Work. 2019;62(1):139-150. doi: 10.3233/WOR-182849.


Background: Electric adjustable height desks (EAHD) have been promoted as an opportunity for desk based workers to stand at work but there is limited evidence that they have an effect on light physical activity.

Objective: The main objective was to determine if there would be a change in light physical activity with the introduction of EAHD. The secondary objective was to assess if there was an associated change in leisure time activity.

Methods: Activity levels were measured by step counts, self-reported activity levels and pre- and post-trial recall levels. Statistical analysis of the data was performed with the software R. Generalised linear models were fitted to the data. A Poisson regression was used for count data. Statistical hypotheses were deemed significant if their p values were less than 0.05.

Results: There was a significant (p < 0.001) effect on step counts associated with allocation of EAHD and a significant (p < 0.001) increase in self-reported activity for the Intervention (EAHD) group. Having an EAHD was associated with increased activity during leisure (p = 0.039).

Conclusions: Activity levels, especially light physical activity, were significantly increased with the allocation of an electric adjustable height desk. This pilot study showed that the environmental change of introduction of electric adjustable height desks into an office workplace can increase physical activity and reduce sitting durations. There is limited evidence that the increase in work activity has a positive impact on leisure time activity.

Keywords: Sitting; physical ergonomics; sit/stand; standing; work; workstations.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry / methods
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Ergonomics / methods
  • Ergonomics / standards*
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New Zealand
  • Office Management / standards
  • Posture / physiology
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workplace / psychology
  • Workplace / standards*