Active Workstations and Their Effect on Performance and Workload
Gustafson, Woodrow William
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Over the past 30 years, work has become more sedentary due to increased computer desk work and added automation, which has led to the development of major health consequences like obesity and diabetes. One promising intervention for decreasing sedentariness is the incorporation of active workstations that promote movement; however the implications of these systems have not been explored thoroughly. The present study looked at the impact of active workstations (sit/stand and treadmill desks) on performance measures, workload, and discomfort during standard office work-type tasks. Thirty-one subjects were tested under three conditions-sitting, standing, walking-in a within subjects design. Each subject performed a series of mousing, typing, and cognitive tasks during each condition and provided subjective ratings of workload and discomfort. Walking produced significant performance decrements on mousing and typing tasks compared to either sitting or standing, but equivalent performance was observed during cognitive tasks. Overall workload was significantly higher during the walking condition versus sitting and standing, with workload increasing over time during the walking condition. Discomfort was rated significantly higher during standing and walking conditions compared to sitting, with the highest rating occurring in the legs. These results help in understanding the effects of these workstations on users and can lead to the development of implementation recommendations in terms of tasks and duration-of-use for the promotion of health and the prevention of performance decrement and body discomfort.