Sit less and walk more a route for healthier aging and increased wellbeing
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Tweet: # sitless. Sit less and walk more- a route for healthier aging and increased wellbeing. Professor Nanette Mutrie Chair of Physical Activity for Health Director of Physical Activity for Health Research Centre PAHRC /education/ pahrc Dr Liz Such

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Sit less and walk more a route for healthier aging and increased wellbeing

Tweet: #sitless

Sit less and walk more-a route for healthier aging and increased wellbeing

Professor Nanette Mutrie

Chair of Physical Activity for Health

Director of Physical Activity for Health Research Centre


Dr Liz Such

Lecturer in Leisure and Sport Policy

O verview

  • Background

  • Tasks involved

  • Quantitative results

  • Qualitative results

  • Conclusions


  • Emerging evidence that too much sitting down time is:

    • Bad for health

    • Independent of how much physical activity the person does

  • Important for ageing population and wellbeing

  • Many current jobs are sedentary

Key relevant policy areas
Key relevant policy areas

  • National Policy Framework. Two National Indicators for health:

    • Increase physical activity

    • Improve mental wellbeing

  • Vision 2020:

    • “by 2020 everyone is able to live longer healthier lives at home, or in a homely setting”

  • Social Care Bill:

    • ensuring dignity and security in old age

  • Let’s Make Scotland More Active

    • and the 2009 review of this policy

Aims of our fellowship
Aims of our Fellowship

  • Engage with the parliament workforce on

    • ‘sitting less and walking more’

  • First

    • by raising awareness of the issue of ‘sitting down time’

  • Second

    • by personal engagement with volunteers who wanted to ‘sit less and walk more’ during the working day

    • this took the form of a 4 week ‘project’

Tasks involved
Tasks involved

  • Meetings and briefing to raise awareness

    • ~50 people in total

  • Blog providing regular info and discussion:

    • over 600 views/260 visitors during project

  • Personal engagement for those interested

    • review of physical activity and sitting time

    • Use of pedometer to monitor activity during work day

  • Invitation event–TODAY!

  • Report to Beltane

Meetings and greetings
Meetings and greetings

  • 6 briefing meetings in groups of 3-20

    • [n= 50]

  • 35 individuals were interested in personal change

  • 20 people have completed the 4 week ‘project’ to date

  • 13 people have completed a more in depth interview

What we asked people to do
What we asked people to do

  • Wear a pedometer for a ‘baseline’ week

  • Decide on whether or not behaviour change needed

  • Try new ways of working that involved ‘sitting less and walking more’ for 3 weeks

  • Return results sheets to Nanette

  • Complete an interview with Liz

Some quantitative results
Some quantitative results

An increase of

~300 steps /day

Paired t-test =2.9 (17), p<0.01

Additional information
Additional information

  • Step count recorded during working day

    • Lowest 620

    • Highest 8,320

  • Ironically

    • the days when parliament ‘sitting’ created most activity!

Top tips
Top tips

  • Use stairs rather than lift

  • Leave desk at regular intervals

  • Get outside for a breath of fresh air

  • Speak directly to colleagues

  • Do not eat lunch at desk

  • Use distant water coolers, printers, photocopiers and toilets


  • For women

    • Wearing the pedometer

    • Solved by new generation pedometers

  • Differing number of working hours/day

  • Working at home days observed to be very sedentary

Initial qualitative findings themes
Initial qualitative findings: themes

  • Explored participants’ experiences and thoughts on the project

  • Examined participants’ attitudes towards sedentariness and physical activity at work

  • Looked at enablers and constrainers - physical and cultural

1 experience of the project
1. Experience of the project

  • Overall enthusiasm

  • Pedometers useful – objective measure

  • Raised awareness about activity and inactivity

  • Encouraged behaviour change, certainly in the short-term

  • Encouraged reflection on the structure and culture of work and how that interacted with personal choice and action in relation to physical (in)activity

2 attitudes
2. Attitudes

  • General frustration with ‘desk-bound’ existence

  • Difficult to build-in activity

  • Dependent on role – some more active than others

  • Blame technology

  • Broad recognition of need to be more physically active generally and specifically

3 enablers and constrainers
3. Enablers and constrainers

  • The physical environment:

    • Parliament building

    • Holyrood area

  • The cultural environment:

    • Desk presenteeism

    • Interruption

    • ‘Closing’ open spaces – related to ‘siloism’, confidence

    • Meetings – sitting, long

Paul grice ceo scottish parliament
Paul Grice, CEO Scottish Parliament

"I think there is a culture of sitting, and I haven’t really given it deep thought as to why that would be. An obvious one, there’s chairs everywhere! And we’re sitting now. It’s a comfortable, relaxing, informal way of doing things, if we were to stand up right now, we would both I think feel a little more formal about it. … But I think it is an area that could and should be addressed, and I think the way to do that would be perhaps to pilot it more formally [standing meetings] and invite a couple of teams just to try it and then let us know how did it feel …

Depending on what comes out of your study, I’d be willing to have a further look at that … maybe get a couple of teams that have been part of this, just to say well would you like to experiment a bit with that and come back with your thoughts”

Http sitless wordpress com

  • Blog – please add comments and questions

  • Tweet using #sitless


  • For most people the working day is more sedentary than active

  • Modest changes to working practice can alter that

  • The parliamentary volunteers have suggested some ‘top tips’ that could help any workforce

    • ‘sit less and walk more’