Study Compares Efficacy of Active Workstations

A systematic review published in Occupational & Environmental Medicine evaluated how different active workstations provide different levels of benefits.

“In order to reduce sedentary behaviour at work, research has examined the effectiveness of active workstations,” the researchers wrote. “However, despite their relevance in replacing conventional desks, the comparison between types of active workstations and their respective benefits remains unclear. The purpose of this review article is thus to compare the benefits between standing, treadmill and cycling workstations.”

The researchers queried Embase, PubMed, and Web of Science for studies comparing the use of at least two active workstations in adults. Twelve studies were included in the final analysis.

When comparing treadmill workstations to standing workstations, researchers observed greater movement/activity and muscular activity in the upper limbs among treadmill users. Both treadmill and cycling workstations resulted in elevated heart rate, decreased ambulatory blood pressure, and increased energy expenditure throughout the day, and increased arousal and decreased boredom, compared to standing workstations. Cycling workstations were associated with greater processing task speeds compared to standing and treadmill workstations. Fine motor skill function, including typing, mouse pointing, and combined keyboard/mouse tasks, was reduced in treadmill workstations compared to cycling and standing workstations.

One of the study’s limitations was that active workstations are relatively new, which left the study authors with a limited amount of research based on short-term outcomes.

“In addition, a large number of outcomes were provided by only one or two studies which both had relatively small sample sizes,” the researchers noted. “As mentioned by other authors, larger randomised controlled trials with mid-term and long-term protocols are needed to provide stronger evidence.”

The researchers concluded that all three active workstations are not equivalent, but they are associated with short-term productivity benefits, while cycling and treadmill workstations have greater physiological benefits than standing workstations.

“Ultimately, workers and corporations should be able to critically examine the benefits and limitations of each type of workstation and determine which is most appropriate for the worker’s specific needs and tasks,” the authors wrote.

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Source: Occupational & Environmental Medicine