We all know that regular exercise has multiple benefits for our physical and mental wellbeing.

It’s also common knowledge that our working lives are becoming increasingly sedentary, bringing with it a whole host of health issues.

But did you know that your workspace could also impact your activity levels during the day?

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Arizona (UA) and the Baylor College of Medicine investigated how different types of office workstations affect activity and stress levels, Medical Daily reported.

For the research, which was published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 231 federal office workers wore heart sensors and activity monitors around the clock to track their stress and activity levels for three workdays and two nights, monitoring them inside and outside the office.

Three types of workstation were compared during the study: private offices (a private room); cubicles (desks with high-walled partitions); and open bench seating arrangements (seating out in the open next to other workers).

The results revealed that those working in an open plan setting were 32% more physically active in the office than those with a private room and 20% more active than employees working in cubicles

It also revealed that those working in open plan offices took around 1,000 more steps a day, compared to those working in a private office.

More physically active workers experienced 14% less physiological stress out of office hours when compared to those who were less physically active.

But why does an open office increase physical activity?

One suggestion is that the acoustic issues related to open plan design may mean employees are more likely to leave their workstations to seek privacy. But it may also be that staff are encouraged to move around the office to collaborate and hold unplanned meetings.

While the study was observational, the research team believes the findings highlight “how office design, driven by office workstation type, could be a health-promoting factor.”

The authors concluded: “Given the importance of physical activity to health, the fact that office workstation type may influence how much people move at work should not be overlooked in the health field.”

While we might not be able to help you train for the marathon, we can help you design an office that encourages staff to be physically active throughout their working day.

Contact Kerr today to find out more.

Share this article...