A new survey says workers cannot stand sitting down so much.

The study found desk-based workers would like to spend less time sitting down and more time walking or doing physical activity as part of their working day.

The experts say that health promotion activities to reduce sitting time in the workplace should be considered.

“To our knowledge this is the first study to investigate how long desk-based workers actually want to sit, stand, walk and be physically active,” said lead author Dr Birgit Sperlich from the German Sport University.

“So far, plans to increase physical activity in the workplace primarily focus on health outcomes without asking the target group what they prefer. Interventions to reduce sitting time may need to include more options for walking rather than only for standing.”

The survey of 614 desk-based workers found participants spent about 73 per cent of their working day sitting down, on average, as well as 10.2 per cent standing, 12.9 per cent walking and 3.9 per cent doing physically demanding tasks.

However, they said they would like to spend 53.8 per cent of their working day sitting down, 15.8 per cent standing, 22.8 per cent walking and 7.7 per cent doing physically demanding tasks.

The desire of employees to spend about half of their working day (4.0 hours) sitting differs considerably from the time they actually report to spend sitting (5.4 hours).

On average, employees wanted to spend an additional 46 minutes per eight-hour working day walking and an additional 26 minutes per eight-hour working day standing.

“Our results lend some support to the recommended reduction of sitting time to 50 per cent of the work day which seems feasible in light of workers’ preferences for sitting, standing and walking that we have identified,” the authors state.

“Alternatively, these results may reflect respondents’ awareness of recent guidance about occupational sitting time.

“Either way, interventions that take into account workers’ personal preferences for sitting, walking and physical activity could help reduce the risk for various negative health outcomes.”

The full study is accessible here.