Study Shows Active Workstations May Improve Cognitive Performance, Encourage Movement


A recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association revealed that active workstations can effectively reduce sedentary time and enhance mental cognition without compromising job performance. These findings are particularly significant for integrative practitioners who are seeking innovative ways to promote health and wellness for their busy, working patients.

Led by Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, MD, a preventative cardiologist at Mayo Clinic, the study involved 44 participants in a randomized trial at Mayo Clinic's Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center. Over four days, participants experienced various office settings, including traditional sitting arrangements and active workstations incorporating standing desks, walking pads, bikes, and steppers.

Researchers analyzed participants' neurocognitive function based on 11 assessments that evaluated reasoning, short-term memory, and concentration. In addition, the participants' fine motor skills were assessed through several physical tests, such as an online typing speed test. Results showed that cognitive function either improved or remained stable with active workstations while typing speed and accuracy was not significantly affected.

"Our findings suggest that it is feasible to blend movement with office work that previously would have been done during long periods of sitting,” said Dr. Lopez-Jimenez. “Active workstations may offer a way to potentially improve cognitive performance and overall health, simply by moving at work."

According to Dr. Lopez-Jimenez, active workstations could offer a practical solution to reducing the risk of chronic diseases related to unhealthy lifestyles: "Being sedentary is the new smoking when it comes to your cardiovascular health, and office workers may spend a large part of their eight-hour workday sitting at a computer screen and keyboard,” he said. “These findings indicate that there are more ways to do that work while remaining productive and mentally sharp.”

Active workstations could have significant benefits for patients whose work requires long hours sitting in front of a computer. “We would do well to consider an active workstation in the prescription for prevention and treatment of conditions like obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes."