Towards healthier sitting. A psychological perspective on sitting behavior

Thursday 22 June 2023, 12:30 pm
PhD student
P. ten Broeke MSc.
prof. dr. S.A.E. Geurts, dr. D.G.J. Beckers, prof. dr. D.H.J. Thijssen
dr. E.H. Bijleveld

To reduce the risk of chronic diseases, many people need to sit less and stand up more often. However, existing interventions such as sit-stand desks, sports watches, and smartphone apps, often only work for a short time. In this thesis, I examined sitting behaviour through a psychological lens to better understand where, when and why people sit so much.

For instance, two studies using activity monitors found that office workers mainly sat for long periods in the morning and in office spaces, while later in the working day they switched between sitting and standing more often and stood up more often in meeting rooms. A third study found that patients with cardiovascular disease were mainly sitting for long periods during evenings and after periods of increased physical activity. Finally, ten Broeke concluded that people rarely sit down because they want to. People sit down to perform other tasks, such as eating, watching TV, or working.

The insights from this thesis suggest that interventions should (a) shift the focus from 'sitting less' to 'getting up more often', (b) focus on specific times of the day, such as work mornings and evenings, (c) focus on specific environments, such as office spaces, and (c) take into account the daily tasks that involve people sitting a lot.