Psychophysiological investigations for promoting cognitive ­capacities and physical health with short bouts of activity during sedentary work

  • Project number: F 2564
  • Institution: Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA)
  • Status: Ongoing Project
  • Planned end: 2026-08-31


The proportion of sedentary work has increased considerably in recent decades. The COVID-19 pandemic was accompanied with an increase of remote work, possibly also increasing the proportion of work performed while sitting. Therefore, health problems associated with sedentary work are becoming more relevant. Further research into the multifactorial effect of action-relevant interventions is necessary in order to gain fundamental insights and improve our understanding of their effects in order to provide appropriate advice for healthy work organisation.

There is little research examining the influence of short breaks with light movement on cognitive performance and information processing. In particular, the impact of the frequency, type and duration of these breaks on one´s cognition is unknown. In addition, cognitive impairments are not always recognisable by means of the standard performance parameters, as people can compensate for impairments with more effort. Such short-term impairments can be detected via the electroencephalogram (EEG) (e.g., using event-related potentials).

While using a holistic approach, we aim to answer the question, to which extent the frequency, type and duration of breaks from sitting influence physical and mental stress and strain. Therefore different conditions, such as short, frequent breaks in comparison to less frequent and longer breaks, with or without movement, will be simulated in the laboratory. Their influence on brain activity, the cardiovascular system and the musculoskeletal system will then be studied and the subjective perception, productivity and performance will be recorded and evaluated.

Maintaining people’s health and their ability to work are key objectives. Well-designed and well-organised work that promotes cognitive performance, health is fundamental. Performing work tasks and lifelong learning require the maintenance of multiple cognitive functions. In terms of employability through healthy work, this should also be possible when working from home. In the future, this project offers the opportunity to apply and examine the findings from the lab with an occupational intervention on a longitudinal basis.

Further information


Unit 3.1 "Prevention of Work-related Diseases"

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