Exercise as it relates to Disease/Does incorporating more physical activity into everyday lifestyle improve body composition, thyroid function, and structure in obese children?

This Wikibooks page is a fact sheet based on the journal article “Do walking strategies to increase physical activity reduce reported sitting in workplaces: a randomized control trial” by Gilson et al. (2009).[1] This has been created by u3096729.

What is the background of this research?[edit]

Studies have shown that white-collar workers are less likely to engage in active transport such as walking and more likely to have long periods of sitting compared to other occupational categories.[2] Two recent systematic reviews identify the workplace as an effective setting through which walking can be encouraged [3][4]

Walking interventions have shown an increase in physical activity for white collar workers compared to when there is no intervention,[5] however these interventions may not automatically lead to a decrease in large amounts of time being seated, a behaviour that is independently linked to chronic diseases such as obesity and type II diabetes [6]

This study compared the impact two different walking strategies had on step counts and reported sitting times.

Where is the research from?[edit]

This research was completed for the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity.
The project was led by Nicholas Gilson. He has an extensive history of research in the measuring, understanding and influencing physical activity and sedentary behaviour in the workplace and has written many papers on the topic. Some key studies he has completed which focus on the area include “The Shifting Gears Project” [7] and “The [email protected] project”.[8] Anna Puig-Ribera, Jim McKenna, Wendy J Brown, Nicola W Burton and Carlton B Cooke all have previous history in the focus on sedentary behaviour and contributed to the design and conception of this study.

What kind of research was this?[edit]

This research was conducted as a randomized control trial.

What did the research involve?[edit]

The research involved 179 (141 female) volunteers who were white-collar workers at a university. They each underwent a ten-week standardised intervention at either, the United Kingdom, Australia and Spain. Before the study, step counts and self-reported sitting times were recorded by participants for five days. The employees were randomly divided up into three groups, 60 control group, 60 route-based walking group and 59 incidental walking group. The control was required to maintain their normal behaviour throughout the research. The route-based performed at least 10 minutes of sustained walking each work day and the incidental were required to involve walking in their workday tasks.
The step counts and sitting periods were measured at the beginning, mid and endpoint during the research with the mean and standard deviation of the measurements being recorded. The results of the pre-intervention and intervention measurements where then analysed using a mixed factorial ANOVA and paired t-tests were used for follow-up.
A limitation of this research was the large distribution of women in the study, also obtaining all subjects from the higher education sector. These factors limit the generalizations and conclusions that can be drawn from the findings to men and other workplaces.

What were the basic results?[edit]

Gilson, Puig-Ribera, McKenna, Brown, Burton & Cooke (Ref 1) found a significant relationship between each group and the step counts. The daily steps for the control group decreased over the period (-391 steps/day) however increased for the route (968 steps/day) and incidental (699 steps/day) groups. There were no significant changes for reported sitting times, but average values did decrease relative to the control (routes group = 7 minutes/day; incidental group = 15 minutes/day).

What conclusions can we take from this research?[edit]

Gilson’s study shows that it is an important factor to increase the amount of physical activity and decrease long periods of sitting in the work environment.[1] Participants of the control group increased their walking however quickly decreased after a period of time when left to their own devices.[1] The interventions create work environments were incidental movements are required and although sitting times weren’t decreased dramatically it atleast breaks up the extended sitting periods.

The findings from Gilson’s study has shown walking interventions increased the physical activity levels of white-collar workers.[1] This aligns with the results from Kling’s study in which it was shown that physical activities increased with the implementation of walking intervention such as walking meetings rather than sitting meetings.[5]

Compared to controls, both route and incidental walking increased physical activity in white-collar employees. The data suggests that workplace walking, and incidental movement also has the potential to decrease employee sitting times, however on-going research is required.[1]

Practical advice[edit]

Due to such a large percentage of today’s current working landscape being of a white collar nature this research has vital real-world implications. This study is at least a start to show that by introducing interventions to encourage more walking in the workplace it does lead to higher physical activity levels. It is now imperative that solid evidence is researched and released such as Hamilton & Zderic’s study [6] to show the major repercussions that continual sedentary behaviour has on the body. It is important that this knowledge is widely publicized and becomes an important consideration for every workplace in the world.

Further information/resources[edit]

British Government. At least five a week. http://www.bhfactive.org.uk/sites/Exercise-Referral-Toolkit/downloads/resources/cmos-report-at-least-five-a-week.pdf [9]


  1. abcde Gilson, N. D., Puig-Ribera, A., McKenna, J., Brown, W. J., Burton, N. W., & Cooke, C. B. (2009). Do walking strategies to increase physical activity reduce reported sitting in workplaces: a randomized control trial. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 6(1), 1.
  2. Duncan, M. J., Badland, H. M., & Mummery, W. K. (2010). Physical activity levels by occupational category in non-metropolitan Australian adults. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 7(6), 718-723.
  3. Ogilvie, D., Foster, C. E., Rothnie, H., Cavill, N., Hamilton, V., Fitzsimons, C. F., & Mutrie, M. Scottish Physical Activity Research Collaboration. (2007). Interventions to promote walking: systematic review. Bmj.
  4. Dugdill, L., Brettle, A., Hulme, C., McCluskey, S., & Long, A. F. (2008). Workplace physical activity interventions: a systematic review. International Journal of Workplace Health Management, 1(1), 20-40.
  5. ab Kling, H., Yang, X., Arheart, K. L., Brannan, D., & Caban-Martinez, A. J. (2015). Occupational Physical Activity Levels Among White-Collar Workers Participating in a Novel Walking Meeting Protocol. Annals of Epidemiology, 25(9), 708.
  6. ab Hamilton, M. T., Hamilton, D. G., & Zderic, T. W. (2007). Role of low energy expenditure and sitting in obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Diabetes, 56(11), 2655-2667.
  7. Gilson, N., Pavey, T., Gomersall, S., Vandelanotte, C., Duncan, M., Wright, O., Wright & Brown, W. (2014). Shifting gears: Process evaluation of an activity tracker and smart phone application to promote healthy lifestyle choices in Australian truck drivers. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 18, e124.
  8. Gilson, N., Faulkner, G., Murphy, M., Meyer, M. R. U., Washington, T., Ryde, G. C., Arbour-Nicitopoulos, K., & Dillon, K. A. (2013). [email protected] Work: An automated intervention to increase walking in university employees not achieving 10,000 daily steps. Preventive medicine, 56(5), 283-287.
  9. Britain, G. (2004). At Least Five a Week: Evidence on the Impact of Physical Activity and Its Relationship to Health: a Report from the Chief Medical Officer. Department of Health.

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