Scientifically evaluating the BtS effect

Measuring our impact

To evaluate how staff can avoid ‘the sitting disease’ at work, Beat the Seat collaborated with The University of Bedfordshire and the Leicester Diabetes Centre in a thorough scientific evaluation. The main aim of the research was to establish what effect the simple behaviour changes advocated by BtS had on office staff performance at Kier Group’s UK headquarters.

The main results revealed a huge increase in daily activity levels of 19%, a 23% decrease in prolonged sitting time, a trend of 2kg in weight loss and a satisfaction level of 95%.

But the increase in self-reported productivity by as much as 9% proved really motivational.

The programme proved so successful that Carol Wells, Kier’s Health and Well-being Specialist, hopes to roll out the initiative throughout the company.

Published in The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine to help inform future workplace health policies, you can read the full research paper here…. (from the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine)

The results:

Staff sat less, got more active, lost weight and improved their health. They did that without the changes in routine affecting their work and without the need to buy in costly new furniture or re-design the office.

  • Each participant lost approximately 2kg and reduced their waist size by nearly an inch (2.2cm).
  • Everyone did 16mins more activity every day – that’s the majority of their daily recommended amount.
  • There was a 19% average increase in movement at work – meaning that, over a year, most people could have walked from London to Paris!
  • Prolonged sitting (the habit that does the damage) was reduced by 23% – giving staff and their health a massive boost.
  • 95% of participants were happy and felt their experience was beneficial.
  • 71% of participants reported they felt better in themselves during and after the intervention.
  • 96% of participants agreed a health intervention at work was important to them
  • 100% agreement that newly adopted behaviours did not hamper work demands or productivity.

Read the full research paper here…. (from the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine)

What BtS did at Kier

The research took place over two months, from March to May 2017, and assessed our programme as it aimed to improve the health of office workers based at Kier Group’s headquarters near Cambridge. Staff following the BtS programme achieved fantastic results. Our findings were even more remarkable as they occurred without any change to the office environment or layout, keeping costs down and participation up.

Osteopath and co-founder of Beat the Seat, Mark McCall, explained,
“In today’s world it can be very difficult to avoid stretches of prolonged sitting. What we’ve done is show that office workers can escape the perils of ‘the sitting disease’ in a fun and affordable way, without any major disruption to the working day.”

A participant’s view

I was initially a little apprehensive as I wasn’t sure what to expect from the programme. There was something in the back of my mind though telling me to go and see what it was all about and I’m so glad that I did.

From the start the way the programme was structured made you think about your whole working day – how much you sit, how often you stand, the breaks you take or the lack of them as you get engrossed in your daily tasks.

The changes the programme helps you to put in place sound like really small things – but they make such a difference! It’s not just me that’s been affected by the changes either as I’ve managed to roll them out not only to the rest of my team but into my home life where I’ve got other family members making changes too.

The best thing is that, even though the programme has finished, it’s now part of my daily routine. Beat the Seat has made me more aware of what needs to be done and how I can continually make small changes to my day to make that happen. I am so glad that I took part in this experience.

Kier Fleet Senior Supervisor

An employer’s thoughts

“A health intervention at work is important to our staff”…. 

Kier Group took part in Beat the Seat’s scientific survey assessing the effectiveness of their programme. Their Health and Wellbeing Specialist, Carol Wells, gave her thoughts on the impact the programme had on the company and the feedback from their staff.

“We wanted to encourage desk bound staff to move more to reduce the risks associated with prolonged sitting and increase the benefits of additional movement.

Being part of a formal scientific study meant we had an intervention group, who received regular support from the BtS team to encourage more movement, and a control group who simply continued as normal. At the end of the 8 week programme both groups were reassessed and the results were striking. There was a significant improvement in the intervention group who had lost weight, reduced inches around their waists, increased their daily activity and reduced their sitting time.

I was supporting the BtS team as their Kier liaison so I was aware of some of the motivation tactics being used. Feedback was really positive and most people agreed that not only did they feel better in themselves but that a health intervention at work was important to them.”

Carol Wells, HR Health and Wellbeing Specialist, Kier Group plc

Successfully changing working behaviours for the long term


Citypress has four offices across the UK and over 70 consultants in roles that involve significant desk work and meeting time. The company wanted to ensure this was not detrimental to the wellbeing of their staff. The project with Beat the Seat built on the investment they’d already put into the physical workspaces in their offices.

The project in action

Beat the Seat started by giving all participating employees an eight point NHS standard health check. The comments staff gave during the process showed they felt this was valuable and demonstrated their company’s commitment to supporting their health and wellbeing.

We then worked with the Citypress teams to educate them about the potential dangers of sedentary behaviour at work and provide them with practical ways to increase activity and time away from seats and screens. This was reinforced by regular reminders and posters across the Citypress offices.