Latest news from Loughborough University

5 Nov 2015

New study aims to improve the health of NHS office workers

Bernie Stribling standing up at her desk at the Leicester Diabetes Centre

A new study by Loughborough University will be looking at the impact of standing desks on the health of NHS office workers at Leicester’s three hospitals.

New height-adjustable desks or desk attachments are being made available to selected staff at the Leicester Royal Infirmary, Leicester General Hospital and Glenfield Hospital.

The SMArT Work (Stand More AT Work) project will investigate if the desks, along with additional behaviour change strategies, reduce sitting time for the participants over a 12 month period.

High levels of sitting have been linked to the development of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer but something as simple as regularly breaking up sitting by standing has been shown to benefit health

The project is a collaborative effort between Loughborough University, University of Leicester and the Leicester Diabetes Centre. It has been funded by the NIHR Department of Health Policy Research Programme and supported by the NIHR Leicester-Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity Biomedical Research Unit as well as the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM).

Dr Fehmidah Munir, from Loughborough University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences and National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine East Midlands, is leading the study.  She said: “Prior to the standing desks being installed we will be assessing how much time the staff taking part in the study spend sat down and inactive, and then reassessing this at the end of the 12 month trial.  This project is a real opportunity to help those who sit for long periods of time to change their sitting habits for the better.”

Study coordinator Dr Sophie O’Connell from the Leicester Diabetes Centre said: “Our message is simple; sit less, move more and we’re trying to encourage this in office environments.  Changes in the demands of work and increased use of computers have led to long, uninterrupted periods of occupational sitting.

“In recent years, studies have emerged demonstrating that sitting is associated with an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, independent of the amount of exercise people do.

“This suggests that even if an individual goes for a 30-minute run every day this may not compensate for the amount of sitting time accumulated throughout the day.  This is worrying since data shows that adults spend around 60 to 70 per cent of their waking day sitting, with office workers sitting for 80 per cent of the day.”

Notes for editors

Article reference number: PR 15/206

  • Loughborough University is equipped with a live in-house broadcast unit via the Globelynx network. To arrange an interview with one of our experts  please contact the press office on 01509 223491. Bookings can be made online via
  • 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.
  • The Leicester Diabetes Centre is an international centre of excellence in diabetes research, education and innovation and is led by Professor Melanie Davies and Professor Kamlesh Khunti.   Based at Leicester General Hospital, the Centre is a partnership between the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and the University of Leicester, working with the city and county Clinical Commissioning Groups. It is a leading applied health research unit committed to improving the lives and care of people with diabetes and other long-term conditions. For more information about the Leicester Diabetes Centre, visit


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