TitleChanging the way we work: elevating energy expenditure with workstation alternatives.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsTudor-Locke, C, Schuna, Jr, JM, Frensham, LJ, Proenca, M
JournalInternational journal of obesity (2005)
Date Published2014 Jun

Emerging evidence supports the feasibility of raising daily energy expenditure (EE) by replacing office work-related sedentary behavior with low-intensity non-exercise physical activity (PA) via workstation alternatives to the traditional office chair and desktop computer-based combinations. The purpose of this review article is to introduce a simple taxonomy to facilitate classification and study of workstation alternatives, catalog the diversity of research undertaken to date related to energy balance, and present and summarize the gaps and opportunities for a research agenda for workstation alternatives moving forward. A PubMed search elicited 57 English language articles published since 2000; additional articles were identified by reviewing reference sections and contacting authors. Selection criteria ultimately focused on use of workstation alternatives during simulated or real work tasks. The EE of sitting on a stability ball or using sit-stand/standing desks is comparable to the traditional seated condition (≅1.2 kcal min(-1)). The treadmill and pedal desks (active workstation alternatives) offer the greatest promise in terms of EE (≅2-4 kcal min(-1)). Sitting on a stability ball or using sit-stand/standing desks does not impair task performance relative to the traditional seated condition. Some evidence of typing impairment is inconsistently reported with active workstation alternatives; the finer motor skills required for mouse-related tasks may be more affected. Little is known about learning or adaptation with practice. Users are generally accepting of workstation alternatives; however, there is evidence of less than optimal use. Active workstations (that is, treadmill desks and pedal desks) in particular represent a potential strategy for mitigating the diminished EE inherent to contemporary office-based workplaces, but only if they are scalable. The science supporting active workstations is young and heterogeneous; however, this means that there are many knowledge gaps and opportunities for research, including those focused on implementation issues related to optimizing both employers' and workers' uptake.