Want to stick to your News Year’s exercise regime? New research may help you to do so

University of Manchester | December 2018 | Want to stick to your New Year’s exercise regime? This research can help

Collbaorative research between experts at University of Manchester, Leeds Trinity University and the National University of Galway Ireland have analysed the results of 180 randomised trials in order to further research into the most effective techniques for changing adults’ physical activity using a concept known as self-efficacy.


This is basically the perception of our own ability and its influence on our ability to succeed or accomplish a specific goal. While earlier research has indicated that  higher levels of self-efficacy are associated with higher levels of physical activity, what is less certain is which techniques have the most impact on our self-efficacy.

A key finding from the study is that the greater the number of techniques used, the more effective they may be at maintaining our self-efficacy in the longer-term. They also found that simply providing people with information on the associated health benefits of exercise did not increase self-efficacy

Lead author Dr Mei Yee Tang at The University of Manchester said: “One of the biggest influences of our behaviour is our own beliefs. If we believe we are capable of doing something, then we are more likely to devote effort to it and feel we can do it even if it may be a difficult task.”

Dr Tang added: “We were unable to find clear patterns of techniques which should be used together, or which might not work as well together, in increasing self-efficacy.

“Previous similar reviews which have looked at specific adult populations have found self-regulatory techniques such as setting physical activity goals and monitoring physical activity behaviour to be effective at increasing self-efficacy in obese adults and adults without a clinical condition.

“Yet, these techniques were associated with lower self-efficacy in older adults. In older adults, techniques such as setting graded tasks – such as slowly increasing walking distance each time – ,were found to be more effective for this population.

“Therefore, it’s important to stress that there isn’t a single ‘magic bullet’ that can increase self-efficacy for physical activity across all adults.

“On January first we should think about factors such as age and any illness or conditions if we are to support ourselves and our loved ones in achieving their physical activity related-New Year’s resolution.”

Read the press release from the University of Manchester

Full reference: Tang, M.Y.,  Smith, D.M.,  Mc Sharry, J., Hann, M.,  French, D.P., | 2018| Behavior Change Techniques Associated With Changes in Postintervention and Maintained Changes in Self-Efficacy For Physical Activity: A Systematic Review With Meta-analysis| Annals of Behavioral Medicine| kay090| https://doi.org/10.1093/abm/kay090



Self-efficacy is an important determinant of physical activity but it is unclear how best to increase self-efficacy for physical activity and to maintain these changes.


This systematic review aimed to identify which specific behavior change techniques (BCTs), BCT clusters, and number of BCTs were associated with changes in postintervention and maintained changes in self-efficacy for physical activity across all adult populations.


A systematic search yielded 180 randomized trials (204 comparisons) which reported changes in self-efficacy. BCTs were coded using the BCT Taxonomy v1. Hierarchical cluster analysis explored the clustering of BCTs. Meta-analyses and moderator analyses examined whether the presence and absence of individual BCTs in interventions were associated with effect-size changes for self-efficacy.


Small intervention effects were found for postintervention self-efficacy for physical activity. “Information about social, environmental, and emotional consequences” was associated with higher effect sizes, whereas “social support (practical)” was associated with lower effect sizes. Small and nonsignificant effects were found for maintained changes in self-efficacy for physical activity . Lack of meaningful clustering of BCTs was found. A significant positive relationship was found between number of BCTs and effect sizes for maintained changes in self-efficacy for physical activity.


There does not appear to be a single effective approach to change self-efficacy for physical activity in all adults: different approaches are required for different populations. Interventions with more BCTs seem more effective at maintaining changes in self-efficacy for physical activity.


Rotherham NHS staff  can request the article here

Cycling and walking for individual and population health benefits

Public Health England | November 2018 | Cycling and walking for individual and population health benefits: A rapid evidence review for health and care system decision-makers

Public Health England (PHE)  has published Cycling and walking for individual and population health benefits, the publication is based on an evidence review to answer the question: What is the impact of walking and/or cycling on different health outcomes?


  • This review found that walking and cycling benefit health in a number of ways:
    people who walk or cycle have improved metabolic health and a reduced risk of
    premature mortality
  • walking and cycling reduce the risk factors for a number of diseases, including
    cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, some cancers, and Type II diabetes
  • walking and cycling also have positive effects on mental health and general wellbeing. The mental health and neurological benefits include reduced risk of
    dementia, improved sleep quality, and a greater sense of wellbeing
  • in environmental terms, health benefits accrue for the general population from a
    reduction in pollution due to car use and a decrease in road congestion
  •  the evidence is that the health benefits of walking and cycling outweigh any
    potential health risks and harms – for example from injury or pollution (Source: PHE)

Read the evidence review in full from PHE 

New physical activity resource for health professionals

Public Health England | October 2018 | New physical activity resource for health professionals

A quarter of people in the UK fail to complete 30 minutes of physical activity each week. According to evidence from Public Health England (PHE) 1 in 4 patients would be inclined to do more physical exercise if a GP or nurse advised them but almost 75 % of GPs do not speak about the benefits of physical activity to patients due to either lack of knowledge, skills or confidence (PHE). 


Now the Moving Medicine tool a digital tool will help healthcare professionals advise patients on how physical activity can help to manage their conditions, prevent disease and aid recovery.

Read the full news story at PHE 

Study proves reducing sitting time boosts office staff’s work engagement and wellbeing

Loughborough University | October 2018 | Study proves reducing sitting time boosts office staff’s work engagement and wellbeing

Loughborough University and University of Leicester staff have investigated simple solutions to encourage staff to spend less time sitting. In a trial involving 146 NHS staff from the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS trust, participants were randomly assigned to two groups. In the first group participants received the Stand More AT Work (SMArT Work) programme and the other group was asked to continue as normal.


As part of the SMArT Work programme the first staff group were given height-adjustable workstations,  attended a brief education seminar, posters and were provided feedback on their sitting behaviour, reduced sitting time and increased standing whilst at work, which resulted in lots of work and wellbeing benefits.

How often the participants stood, sat and moved was recorded by a small device worn by the subjects. In addition  participants filled out questionnaires which included questions on:

  • their performance at work
  •  job satisfaction
  • engagement
  • musculoskeletal issues
  • fatigue
  • wellbeing
  • sickness absence.

A year later the research team found that participants in the intervention group spent 83 minutes less per day sitting down at work than the control group (Source: Loughborough University).

Of interest:

BBC News Standing-desk workers ‘less tired, more engaged’

A paper based on the study has now been published, and is available in full from the BMJ 


Objectives To evaluate the impact of a multicomponent intervention (Stand More AT (SMArT) Work) designed to reduce sitting time on short (three months), medium (six months), and longer term (12 months) changes in occupational, daily, and prolonged sitting, standing, and physical activity, and physical, psychological, and work related health.

Design Cluster two arm randomised controlled trial.

Setting National Health Service trust, England.

Participants 37 office clusters (146 participants) of desk based workers: 19 clusters (77 participants) were randomised to the intervention and 18 (69 participants) to control.

Interventions The intervention group received a height adjustable workstation, a brief seminar with supporting leaflet, workstation instructions with sitting and standing targets, feedback on sitting and physical activity at three time points, posters, action planning and goal setting booklet, self monitoring and prompt tool, and coaching sessions (month 1 and every three months thereafter). The control group continued with usual practice.

Main outcome measures The primary outcome was occupational sitting time (thigh worn accelerometer). Secondary outcomes were objectively measured daily sitting, prolonged sitting (more than or equal to 30 minutes), and standing time, physical activity, musculoskeletal problems, self reported work related health (job performance, job satisfaction, work engagement, occupational fatigue, sickness presenteeism, and sickness absenteeism), cognitive function, and self reported psychological measures (mood and affective states, quality of life) assessed at 3, 6, and 12 months. Data were analysed using generalised estimating equation models, accounting for clustering.

Results A significant difference between groups (in favour of the intervention group) was found in occupational sitting time at 12 months. Differences between groups (in favour of the intervention group compared with control) were observed for occupational sitting time at three months and six months and daily sitting time at six months and 12 months. Group differences (in favour of the intervention group compared with control) were found for prolonged sitting time, standing time, job performance, work engagement, occupational fatigue, sickness presenteeism, daily anxiety, and quality of life. No differences were seen for sickness absenteeism.

Conclusions SMArT Work successfully reduced sitting time over the short, medium, and longer term, and positive changes were observed in work related and psychological health.

Full reference: Edwardson Charlotte L. et al| 2018 |  Effectiveness of the Stand More AT (SMArT) Work intervention: cluster randomised controlled trial | 

Office workers in open plan offices more active, finds study

Lindberg CMSrinivasan KGilligan B, et al| 2018| Effects of office workstation type on physical activity and stress| 
The findings of a new study appear to suggest that employees who work in open plan offices are more likely to be active than those who work in workstations such as cubicles. The researchers from the University of Arizona studied over 200 (n=231) US office workers who worked in government buildings. They found that workers in open-plan environments were almost a third more physically active during the work day than those in private offices and a fifth more active than workers in cubicles. They also found that the more active workers had lower levels of stress outside the office in comparison to participants who were less active. 



Objective Office environments have been causally linked to workplace-related illnesses and stress, yet little is known about how office workstation type is linked to objective metrics of physical activity and stress. We aimed to explore these associations among office workers in US federal office buildings.

Methods We conducted a wearable, sensor-based, observational study of 231 workers in four office buildings. Outcome variables included workers’ physiological stress response, physical activity and perceived stress. Relationships between office workstation type and these variables were assessed using structural equation modelling.

Results Workers in open bench seating were more active at the office than those in private offices and cubicles (open bench seating vs private office=225.52 mG (31.83% higher on average); open bench seating vs cubicle=185.13 mG (20.16% higher on average). Furthermore, workers in open bench seating experienced lower perceived stress at the office than those in cubicles. Finally, higher physical activity at the office was related to lower physiological stress (higher heart rate variability in the time domain) outside the office.

Conclusions Office workstation type was related to enhanced physical activity and reduced physiological and perceived stress. This research highlights how office design, driven by office workstation type, could be a health-promoting factor.

The full article is available to download from BMJ Open 

The link between exercise and mental health

Chekroud, S.R., et al | 2018 |  Association between physical exercise and mental health in 1·2 million individuals in the USA between 2011 and 2015: a cross-sectional study |The Lancet Psychiatry| Epub ahead of print | DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(18)30227-X

A study that looked at the relationship between exercise and mental health burden  has now been published in the Lancet Journal of Psychiatry. The research team studied over one million participants and found that those who exercised had 43·2% fewer days of poor mental health in the past month than individuals who did not exercise but were otherwise similar in terms of physical health and sociodemographic status . While all forms of exercise were associated with lower mental health burden this was particularly apparent for group sports as well as gym and aerobic exercise and cycling (Source: Chekroud et al, 2018).

The research article is available to Rotherham NHS staff  and can be requested here 

In the news:

The Telegraph Exercising for 90 minutes or more could make mental health worse, study suggests 

BBC News  Regular exercise ‘best for mental health’

ITV News Regular exercise can help improve mental health – but don’t go overboard

Muscle and bone strengthening and balance activities for general health benefits in adults and older adults

Public Health England & Centre for Ageing Better  | July 2018 | Muscle and bone strengthening and balance activities for general health benefits in adults and older adults

Public Health England (PHE) have published a review that  highlights the  increasing evidence on strengthening and balance activities for general health benefits, and suggest that all adults and older adults should  undertake a programme of exercise at least twice per week that includes high intensity resistance training, some impact exercise (running, jumping, skipping etc.) and balance training.


The specific exercises included and the volume of exercise per session should be
tailored to individual fitness and physical function (Source PHE).
The full review is available from PHE