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Mayo Clinic study finds active workstations may improve cognitive performance

Apr. 04, 2024.
2 min. read 13 Interactions

"Being sedentary is the new smoking"—Mayo Clinic

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Amara Angelica

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Sedentary editor

Adjustable standing desk (credit: A. Angelica/DALL-E 3)

What if your workstation had a walking pad, bike, stepper and/or standing desk?

Mayo Clinic study suggests that such an active workstation could reduce your sedentary time and improve your mental cognition at work—decreasing your risk of preventable chronic diseases without reducing job performance.

Improving work performance and health

“Active workstations may offer a way to potentially improve cognitive performance and overall health, simply by moving at work,” says Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, M.D., a preventive cardiologist at Mayo Clinic and senior author of the study, which was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

The research involved 44 participants in a randomized clinical trial with four office settings, evaluated over four consecutive days at Mayo Clinic’s Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center. Study findings are published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

The settings included a stationary or sitting station on the first day, followed by three active workstations (standing, walking or using a stepper) in a randomized order.

Researchers analyzed participants’ neurocognitive function based on 11 assessments that evaluated reasoning, short-term memory and concentration. Fine motor skills were assessed through an online typing speed test and other tests.  

Improved reasoning

When participants used the active workstations, their brain function either improved or stayed the same. Their typing speed slowed down only a bit, but the accuracy of their typing was not affected. The study revealed improved reasoning scores when standing, stepping and walking as compared with sitting. 

When it comes to your cardiovascular health, office workers may spend a large part of their eight-hour workday sitting at a computer screen and keyboard.

“These findings indicate that there are more ways to do that work while remaining productive and mentally sharp. We would do well to consider an active workstation in the prescription for prevention and treatment of conditions like obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” says Lopez-Jimenez.

Citation: Miguel A. Gomez Ibarra et al. 4 Apr 2024. Effect of Active Workstations on Neurocognitive Performance and Typing Skills: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Journal of the American Heart Association. https://doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.123.031228 (open-access)

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