Work Type



Fall 11-4-2017

Faculty Advisor

Danny McMillian, DPT


Purpose: Sedentary behavior is prevalent in developed nations and associated with higher mortality. Cumulative and continuous time spent sitting in the workplace are independently associated with metabolic health risk. While walking breaks are one option to decrease sedentary time, another is to perform exercises with the potential to improve balance, which declines with age and sedentary lifestyles. The purpose of this pilot study was to determine the acceptability of a novel program of diverse movements to reduce sedentary time at work, and the effectiveness of the program at improving balance.

Number of Subjects: 34

Materials and Methods: Participants were recruited from the university’s administrative staff. Exclusion criteria were: impaired balance, reduced weight bearing, or cardiovascular pathology. Subjects were randomized to the experimental “movement snack” group, or a control group. The experimental group was instructed to perform 2-minute bouts of standardized exercises every 30 minutes while at work. Exercises were designed as integrated, multi-planar movements that also provided a challenge to balance. The exercises were taught during a 40-minute orientation session, and scaled to the subjects' capabilities. Scheduled exercise prompts, including video instruction, were provided at each participant’s work station. Participants assigned to the control group performed no additional workday activity. Outcome measures included: the Y-balance test, Modified SFMA, General Self Efficacy Scale, Stages of behavioral change, and, for the experimental group only, a 1-5 Likert scale evaluation of the acceptability of the program at the completion of the study.

Results: For the composite Y-balance score, repeated measures ANOVA revealed a significant time x group interaction (p = 0.032), though between-groups effects were insignificant (p=0.404, power = 0.13). Though experimental subjects were generally comfortable performing the movement snack in their workplace (mean = 3.93 on a 1-5 Likert scale, SD=1.16), they were less positive about fitting the movement snack into their work day (mean=2.87, SD=0.99), or continuing to use the movement snacks after the study (mean=2.6, SD=1.06). Modified SFMA scores did not indicate significant differences between exercise and control group. Likewise, between group analysis of general self-efficacy and stages for behavioral change were not found to be significant. The average number of movement snacks completed per week was 20. Comments from participants in the experimental group suggest the need for greater individual choice regarding the frequency and duration of the movement snacks.

Conclusion: This pilot study of a novel program to reduce sedentary practices in the workplace revealed the need for more individualized prescription of movement snacks. Though the hypothesized improvement in balance was not proven, inadequate statistical power was a limiting factor.

Clinical Relevance: Due to adverse effects on individual and public health, sedentary behavior is likely to remain an area of interest for researchers. In order to promote adherence and effectiveness, future exercise-based interventions should consider individualized movement prescriptions and plan for adequate statistical power.


University of Puget Sound