Musculoskeletal and Cognitive Effects of a Movement Intervention During Prolonged Standing for Office Work

Richelle Baker, Pieter Coenen, Erin Howie, Jeremy Lee, Ann Williamson, Leon Straker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: To investigate whether use of a movement intervention when undertaking prolonged standing affected discomfort and cognitive function. Background: Alternate work positions to break up prolonged sitting for office workers are being trialed, such as standing. Prolonged standing has potential negative health implications, including low back and lower limb discomfort, and may influence cognitive function. Introducing movement during standing may provide a healthy and productive alternative work posture. Method: Twenty adult participants undertook a laboratory study of 2 hr of standing and standing with movement (using a footrest) while performing computer work. Changes in discomfort and cognitive function, with muscle fatigue, low back angle, pelvis movement, lower limb swelling, and mental state, were investigated. Results: Discomfort increased significantly over time across all body regions. Ankle/foot differed between conditions (incident rate ratio [95% confidence interval]: 1.89 [1.10–3.23]), with higher discomfort during standing with movement. Creative problem-solving errors increased during standing with movement and decreased during standing (Time × Condition: β = 0.64 [0.10–1.18]), with no other cognitive function measure differences. Mental state deteriorated over time for both conditions, greater during standing with movement (Time × Condition: β = 2.44 [0.23–4.66]). No significant interaction effects were found for the other outcome variables. Conclusion: Standing with movement provided no advantage in discomfort or cognitive function. There were some negative effects for ankle/foot discomfort and creative problem solving. An alternate footrest design and protocol for use may yield more favorable results. Application: Based on the results from this study, footrest use to raise alternative foot for forced 5-min intervals would not be recommended to assist with managing discomfort while prolonged standing in workplaces.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)947-961
JournalHuman Factors
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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