Active buildings: modelling physical activity and movement in office buildings. An observational study protocol

Introduction: Health benefits of regular participation in physical activity are well documented but population levels are low. Office layout, and in particular the number and location of office building destinations (eg, print and meeting rooms), may influence both walking time and characteristics of sitting time. No research to date has focused on the role that the layout of the indoor office environment plays in facilitating or inhibiting step counts and characteristics of sitting time. The primary aim of this study was to investigate associations between office layout and physical activity, as well as sitting time using objective measures. Methods and analysis Active buildings is a unique collaboration between public health, built environment and computer science researchers. The study involves objective monitoring complemented by a larger questionnaire arm. UK office buildings will be selected based on a variety of features, including office floor area and number of occupants. Questionnaires will include items on standard demographics, well-being, physical activity behaviour and putative socioecological correlates of workplace physical activity. Based on survey responses, approximately 30 participants will be recruited from each building into the objective monitoring arm. Participants will wear accelerometers (to monitor physical activity and sitting inside and outside the office) and a novel tracking device will be placed in the office (to record participant location) for five consecutive days. Data will be analysed using regression analyses, as well as novel agent-based modelling techniques. Ethics and dissemination The results of this study will be disseminated through peer-reviewed publications and scientific presentations. Ethical approval was obtained through the University College London Research Ethics Committee (Reference number 4400/001).