GPs trial standing desks to encourage physical activity

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Academics are investigating whether the introduction of “standing consultations” at GPs’ surgeries could improve the health of both GPs and their patients.

Loughborough University, in partnership with the Royal College of General Practitioners, will provide standing desks to GPs to see whether they help to improve levels of physical activity and encourage better health outcomes.

The majority of the UK’s 50,000 GPs sit at a desk for long periods of their working day and report low levels of physical activity, according to the university.

The first phase of the study will see 500 GPs asked to complete a survey about their views on the use of standing desks during patient consultations. Patients will also be asked what they think about the use of a standing desks during their visit.

This will be followed by the recruitment of GPs from across the East and West Midlands to wear an ActivPAL activity-tracking device to determine the amount of time GPs spend setting and standing while using their usual work desk, and then again while using a standing desk. It will also allow the researchers to see if there are any changes to activity levels outside of the workplace.

Professor Amanda Daley from Loughborough University’s School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences, said: “Historically, GPs and patients sit during consultations to facilitate good doctor-patient-rapport – we have all heard the familiar greeting from our GPs to ‘take a seat’.

“But we also know that GPs spend a long time sitting down during the working day – which can contribute to poor health outcomes – and evidence suggests that doctors often neglect their own health.

“Therefore, we need to find ways of getting GPs on their feet and moving more often. Standing consultations could help GPs to be more active, as well as highlighting to patients the importance of reducing and breaking up their sitting time.”

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