This week, we have teamed up with Gemma Ryde from the University of Stirling, who is researching the link between physical activity, productivity and stress in the workplace.

“I am a researcher from the University of Stirling who has an interest in physical activity, sedentary behaviour and employee health and wellbeing. I am interested in how much we sit and move at work and ways to get people more active in the workplace. Some of my previous work has looked at workplace sitting time and I have developed a device called the Sitting Pad which is place on an employee’s chair to measure how much they sit at their desk. One of my research projects conducted with office based employees in Australia showed that employees can sit at their desks for 67% of their time at work and that those with high desk based sitting time were 9 times more likely to be obese than those with low desk based sitting time. Some of my other work has addressed workplace physical activity interventions and I have written a review on what factors influence recruitment rates in workplace PA interventions.”

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“This review reignited my interest in the question ‘how can we get more people to take part in workplace physical activity interventions’. My current thinking is that the outcomes we measure and report on might play an important role. Whilst many workplace physical activity interventions report on changes in physical activity or health outcomes, they rarely study their effects on outcomes workplaces might be interested in. Speaking with managers and those with an organisational overview, whilst employee’s health is a priority, measures that are more directly relatable to the workplace such as productivity and stress are of great interest. As a health behaviour, physical activity is a hard sell in the workplace as it typically takes people away from their work in order to achieve its goals. Showing that productivity is either improved or at least not reduced could help provide a more compelling argument for why workplaces should allow employees to be active at work and supporting them in their active pursuits.”

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“I have therefore linked up with Paths for All to try and collect this sort of data for the Autumn Step Count Challenge. Those involved in the challenge would have seen an invite to complete a series of surveys on productivity and stress. Data will be collected at three time points before, during and after the challenge. Once all data is collected we will analyse this over the next couple of months and the results will be communicated through Paths for All early next year. We hope this study will provide some interesting results for all those involved in the challenge.”

To take part in Gemma’s survey, click here. You’ll be entered into a prize draw for a Fitbit Flex 2 for taking part!