Sitting time and step counts in office workers

BACKGROUND: Technological advances mean that many adults are now employed in sedentary occupations. Given evidence linking prolonged sitting to chronic disease risk, understanding sitting and physical activity in and outside the workplace may usefully inform effective interventions. AIMS: To assess sitting time and physical activity during and outside working hours in fulltime office workers. METHODS: Participants wore a pedometer and recorded sitting times and step counts during and outside working hours for seven days. Participants were divided into tertiles based on the proportion of time spent sitting at work. Sitting times and step counts reported outside work were compared between groups, using one-way analysis of variance. RESULTS: There were 72 participants. Almost two thirds (65%) of time at work was spent sitting. The sample accumulated 3742±2493 steps at work and 5159±2474 steps outside work on workdays. Participants in the highest tertile for workplace sitting reported sitting for longer than those in the lowest tertile during transport (64±59 vs 21±16 mins), after-work (154±30 vs 126±51mins) and at weekends (382±133 vs 288±124mins, all p<0.05). Work duration and steps reported outside work did not differ between groups. CONCLUSIONS: Office workers who sit for a large proportion of their working day also report sitting for longer outside work. They do not compensate for their sedentary behaviour at work by being more active outside work. Occupational health interventions should focus on reducing workplace and leisure-time sitting in sedentary office workers.