Can a Carefully Designed Landscape Help Us Avoid Sitting Too Much? – Medical News Bulletin

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Researchers have designed a landscape with various standing positions that can help avoid sitting too much and investigated whether people would spontaneously use it.

Sitting too much is a health problem that has been associated with the risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular diseases and may lead to premature mortality. Most office workers spend most of their day in a sitting position. Although bursts of physical activity can be helpful in reducing the effect of sitting too much, its impact is only marginal and, as such, there is a need for better strategies that can help reduce too much sitting in daily life.

Designing a New Office Landscape

Standing is known to be better than sitting, and based on this, researchers have designed “The End of Sitting”, an office landscape with various standing positions that can promote a non-sitting posture. While the landscape offers a great opportunity to avoid sitting, it is not known if people are spontaneously attracted to it.This prompted Renaud and colleagues to research on the spontaneous use of the landscape.

In their study published in BMC Public Health, they assessed the number of visitors, duration of visits, and changes in location within the landscape. They also observed the adopted postures and activities of visitors. To do this, the researchers placed a 12 × 3 meter cut-out of an original ‘End of Sitting’ landscape at the entrance hall of a University in Amsterdam from April to May 2016 and observed its usage by visitors. For continuous observation, the researchers collected information on the start and end time of every visit on the landscape, whether the visitor changed location to at least one other location, gender, and estimated age group of visitors to the landscape.

Observational scans involved visual scanning of the landscape area including the surrounding benches. The information collected included the presence of individuals in the landscape or the surrounding benches, their body posture, their activity, gender, and estimated age group as well as the outside temperature and weather condition. Visitors(both on the landscape and surrounding benches) were asked to complete a questionnaire. The questionnaires for the landscape visitors were different from those of the bench visitors but with some overlapping questions which focused on activities, postures, duration of visit, change of location, reasons for (or not) visiting the landscape etc.

Positive Reactions to the New Landscape

The researchers observed 62 landscape visits during 15 hours of continuous observation. The average duration on the landscape was eight minutes with 12 visitors changing their location at least once on the landscape. For observational scans, the researchers observed 43 landscape visitors most of whom (90.7%) were in an upright position. 

The results of this research show that people can spontaneously be attracted to a standing position. Although not many people visited the landscape and most who did stayed only for a short while, the positive reaction shown by visitors reveals that people are becoming aware of the health hazards of sitting too much and are willing to adopt other non-sitting positions. Further research to determine the suitability of the landscape in short stay areas will be worthwhile.

Written by Asongna T. Folefoc

Reference: Renaud LR, Huysmans MA, Speklé EM, van der Beek AJ and van der PloegHP. ‘The End of Sitting’ in a public space: observations of spontaneous visitors. BMC Public Health (2017) 17:937 DOI 10.1186/s12889-017-4971-7



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