Acute effects of breaking up prolonged sitting on fatigue and cognition: a pilot study

Wennberg, Patrik, Boraxbekk, Carl-Johan, Wheeler, Michael, Howard, Bethany, Dempsey, Paddy C., Lambert, Gavin, Eikelis, Nina, Larsen, Robyn, Sethi, Parneet, Occleston, Jessica, Hernestal-Boman, Jenny, Ellis, Kathryn A., Owen, Neville and Dunstan, David W. (2016) Acute effects of breaking up prolonged sitting on fatigue and cognition: a pilot study. BMJ Open, 6 2: 1-9. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-009630


Author Wennberg, Patrik
Boraxbekk, Carl-Johan
Wheeler, Michael
Howard, Bethany
Dempsey, Paddy C.
Lambert, Gavin
Eikelis, Nina
Larsen, Robyn
Sethi, Parneet
Occleston, Jessica
Hernestal-Boman, Jenny
Ellis, Kathryn A.
Owen, Neville
Dunstan, David W.
Title Acute effects of breaking up prolonged sitting on fatigue and cognition: a pilot study
Journal name BMJ Open   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 2044-6055
Publication date 2016
Year available 2016
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1136/bmjopen-2015-009630
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 6
Issue 2
Start page 1
End page 9
Total pages 9
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher BMJ Group
Collection year 2017
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Objectives To compare the acute effects of uninterrupted sitting with sitting interrupted by brief bouts of light-intensity walking on self-reported fatigue, cognition, neuroendocrine biomarkers and cardiometabolic risk markers in overweight/obese adults.

Design Randomised two-condition crossover trial.

Setting Laboratory study conducted in Melbourne, Australia.

Participants 19 overweight/obese adults (45–75 years).

Interventions After an initial 2 h period seated, participants consumed a meal-replacement beverage and completed (on 2 days separated by a 6-day washout period) each condition over the next 5 h: uninterrupted sitting (sedentary condition) or sitting with 3 min bouts of light-intensity walking every 30 min (active condition).

Primary outcome measures Self-reported fatigue, executive function and episodic memory at 0 h, 4 h and 7 h.

Secondary outcome measures Neuroendocrine biomarkers and cardiometabolic risk markers (blood collections at 0 h, 4 h and 7 h, blood pressure and heart rate measured hourly and interstitial glucose measured using a continuous glucose monitoring system).

Results During the active condition, fatigue levels were lower at 4 h (−13.32 (95% CI −23.48 to −3.16)) and at 7 h (−10.73 (95% CI −20.89 to −0.58)) compared to the sedentary condition. Heart rate was higher at 4 h (4.47 (95% CI 8.37 to 0.58)) and at 7 h (4.32 (95% CI 8.21 to 0.42)) during the active condition compared to the sedentary condition. There were no significant differences between conditions by time for other variables. In the sedentary condition, changes in fatigue scores over time correlated with a decrease in heart rate and plasma dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA) and an increase in plasma dihydroxyphenylglycol (DHPG).

Conclusions Interrupting prolonged sitting with light-intensity walking breaks may be an effective fatigue countermeasure acutely. Fatigue levels corresponded with the heart rate and neuroendocrine biomarker changes in uninterrupted sitting in this pilot study. Further research is needed to identify potential implications, particularly for the occupational health context.

Trial registration number ACTRN12613000137796; Results.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: HERDC Pre-Audit
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