Increasing passive energy expenditure during clerical work
Beers, Erik Aaron
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Standing rather than sitting for part of the workday may be a passive way to expend energy. Not all people may be motivated to stand while working so another possibility for increasing energy expenditure throughout the workday is by sitting on a therapy ball. Purpose. To determine the differences in passive energy expenditure, liking, and choice of adult men and women while performing a standard set of clerical duties while seated in an office chair, while seated on a therapy ball, and while standing. Methods. Subjects were measured for anthropometrics and resting metabolic rate was measured in a semi-recumbent position for 45 minutes. Energy expenditure was then measured for 20 minutes while subjects word processed in three standardized positions: (a) while sitting in an office chair, (b) while sitting on a therapy ball, and (c) while standing at a height adjustable desk. Heart rate was measured for 5 minutes while subjects sat quietly in an office chair between each condition to return subjects to baseline. Subjects ranked their comfort, fatigue, and liking of each condition using a visual analog scale after each condition. They were then asked to perform their choice of 20 additional minutes of clerical work while either sitting in an office chair, while sitting on a therapy ball, or while standing. Results. Energy expenditure was greater while performing clerical work sitting on a therapy ball ( p ≤ 0.05) and standing ( p ≤ 0.05) than while sitting in an office chair. There was no significant difference in energy expenditure between the therapy ball and standing conditions ( p ≤ 0.48). Sitting on a therapy ball or standing would increase energy expenditure by 33 and 32 kcals, respectively, over an 8-hour workday compared to sitting in an office chair. In addition to greater passive energy expenditure, men and women also liked sitting on a therapy ball as much as sitting in an office chair and liked sitting on a therapy ball more than standing ( p ≤ 0.05). A disproportionate number of men and women also chose to perform more clerical work while seated on a therapy ball than while standing ( p = 0.03). Conclusion. Sitting on a therapy ball or standing rather than sitting in an office chair while performing clerical work results in increases in energy expenditure that are equal to or greater than the average excess daily energy intake for 90% of the population. The potential for the prevention of further weight gain or weight maintenance may exist in increasing these activities throughout the workday.