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10 Mar 2016

Bus drivers’ health at risk due to sedentary behaviour, Loughborough research reveals

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Bus drivers are typically sitting for more than 12 hours a day due to the demands of the job – three hours longer than office workers.

Led by researchers at Loughborough University as part of the Leicester-Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity Biomedical Research Unit (BRU)[1], the pilot study into bus drivers’ sedentary behaviour (prolonged sitting) during and outside working hours is the first of its kind to directly measure periods of inactivity in a sample of drivers using an activPAL3™ accelerometer[2].

A total of 28 volunteer bus drivers provided valid data as part of the study[3] on at least three workdays and one non-workday. These results were included in the analyses and showed that the drivers were sedentary for more than 12 hours a day on workdays, dropping to just under nine hours a day on non-workdays. This meant that the drivers’ daily sitting time on workdays was up to three hours greater than that seen in office workers using the same device[4].

Meanwhile, 74% of bus drivers who took part in the study were defined as being overweight or obese, and at increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Participants were also found to have accumulated higher volumes of sitting time during non-workdays (62%) than seen in other occupations, which could be due to a knock-on effect of time spent sitting during the working day.

PhD student Veronica Varela Mato, from Loughborough University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, part of the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine East Midlands, said the study’s findings indicated that urgent interventions are needed to boost the health of bus drivers who are considered ‘at risk’ as a direct result of their jobs.

 “The findings of this pilot study suggest that bus drivers’ health is suffering due to lengthy periods of sedentary behaviour which tends to dominate the working day,” she said.

“This is why health interventions are needed sooner rather than later, not only to help increase bus drivers’ movement during scheduled breaks, but also to boost drivers’ levels of physical activity during leisure time.

“This study should serve as an incentive for more thorough research in occupational settings like these, with larger and more diverse groups of drivers. Regularly breaking up periods of sitting has been linked to health benefits, so a feasible approach to improving bus drivers’ overall health and wellbeing could be, for example, to introduce pedometer-based walking challenges.”

Drs David Stensel and Stacy Clemes (Loughborough University), Dr Thomas Yates (Leicester Diabetes Centre), and Professor Stuart Biddle (Victoria University, Melbourne), supervised this study.

Time spent sitting during and outside working hours in bus drivers: a pilot study has been published in Preventive Medicine Reports journal.

Notes for editors

Article reference number: PR 16/36

 

  1.  A collaboration between Loughborough University, University Hospitals of Leicester and the University of Leicester.
  2. The lightweight device was worn by drivers on the front of the thigh to directly measure sedentary and non-sedentary behaviours over a seven-day period. Previous studies have shown it to be a valid measure of time spent sitting, standing and walking in adults (Grant et al., 2006; Kozey-Keadle et al., 2011).
  3. Undertaken at a local bus company within the East Midlands, UK.
  4. Office workers’ daily sitting time on workdays was found to be nine to 10 hours a day (Smith et al., 2015).

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Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, putting it among the best universities in the world, and was named University of the Year in the What Uni Student Choice Awards 2015.Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. It was 2nd in the 2015 THE Student Experience Survey and was named Sports University of the Year 2013-14 by The Times and Sunday Times. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

In September 2015 the University opened an additional academic campus in London’s new innovation quarter. Loughborough University London, based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities.

The NCSEM-EM is one of three hubs forming the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine England, along with London and Sheffield. The East Midlands hub is a partnership between Loughborough University, University of Leicester, University of Nottingham, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust and Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust.

Contact for all media enquiries

Charlotte Hester

PR Officer
Loughborough University
T: 01509 223491
E: C.L.Hester@lboro.ac.uk

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