Research

The primary aim of Active Buildings is to understand how and where office workers accumulate step counts as well as sitting time in buildings and to determine the potential for change arising from spatial reconfiguration of the office layout. In addition to this, our research also aims to identify potential socio-ecological correlates of occupational physical activity and sitting behaviour such as environmental perceptions and job role.

Motivation for the Research

Regular participation in physical activity aids in the prevention of non-communicable disease risk factors. However, 95% of adults do not meet physical activity guidelines and 50% of the UK workforce are in sedentary office jobs, so spend large proportions of their day sitting. The workplace offers both a captive audience and an arena to promote physical activity and reductions in sitting time. Restructuring office environments could increase physical activity and break up sitting time but there is currently no literature on the associations between office layout and physical activity or sitting behaviour.

Research Methods

We are collecting data in a total of 10 UK office buildings selected according to a variety of features (e.g. that house predominantly desk-based workers). Once we recruit the office building into the study, we ask all members of staff to complete the Active Buildings 'Movement at Work' survey which includes questions on standard demographics, well-being measures, physical activity behaviour and putative socio-ecological correlates of workplace physical activity (please find the survey on the 'News/Publications' section). Based on these survey responses, we then invite approximately 30 participants from each building to have their physical activity and movement around the workplace objectively monitored. In order to do this, we ask participants to wear accelerometers on their thigh (to monitor their activity inside and outside the office) and a novel RFID tracking device around their neck (to record their location in the office) for six consecutive days. These devices are shown in the image below. Active Buildings measurement devices

Research Outcomes

Data collected using the physical activity monitor provide a daily record of time spent sitting or lying, standing and walking for each participant. Furthermore, they provide information on the cadence of walking events and the number of daily transitions between sitting/lying and standing. Data collected using the RFID tracking device record the participant's time-stamped location within the workplace, which can then be combined with physical activity data to understand where and when the participant moves in the office building.

Research Outputs

A computational model of the relationship between spatial reconfigurations of the office layout and step counts as well as sitting time will be developed. Output from this model and other statistical analyses will then be used to develop practical guidance for designers and organisations about the features required to create active buildings.