Plain English Summary
Background and study aims
The workplace is an important potential setting for physical activity (PA) interventions (i.e. programmes). However, few workplace PA interventions take full advantage of work breaks and result in limited-to-modest success. Booster Breaks are organized work breaks that are designed to improve employees physical and psychological health, increase job satisfaction and improve work productivity. Booster Breaks have been developed to alleviate work-related stress and encourage more PA behavior in employees that may otherwise have sedentary jobs. Examples of Booster Breaks include short exercise or meditation sessions. The aim of this study is to test whether Booster Breaks increase PA among sedentary employees, compared with individualized PA work breaks and typical work breaks.
Who can participate?
Employees with sedentary office jobs from four workplaces in a large, urban southwestern U.S. city.
What does the study involve?
Participants are randomly allocated into one of three groups. Those in group 1 are assigned to the Usual Break (control) group. Those in group 2 are assigned to the Computer Prompt (individualized PA work breaks) group. Those in group 3 are assigned to the Booster Break group. The Usual Break condition includes usual or typical work break practices and behaviors. The two interventions are developed to be consistent with the WHO Healthy Workplace Framework and Model. The individualized Computer Prompt condition is designed to interrupt prolonged sitting time by introducing 3-minute breaks, 5 times per day. The group-based Booster Break condition is a peer-led, once-a-day, 15-minute PA session that guides employees through a series of stretching, strengthening, and aerobic movements followed by a brief meditation. Based on a participation rate threshold of 70%, workplaces were classified either as consistent or inconsistent implementers of the intervention. A number of physiological and behavioral measures are assessed before the study starts and 6 months later.
What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
Not provided at time of registration
Where is the study run from?
Four different work places in a large, urban southwestern U.S. city
When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
January 2009 to January 2013
Who is funding the study?
National Institutes of Health (USA)
Who is the main contact?
Dr Wendell Taylor
NIH (Grant No. R03 NR010291)
Impact of Booster Breaks on physical activity among sedentary employees: a cluster randomized controlled trial
It was hypothesized that, compared with non-Booster Break participants, Booster Break participants will have significant improvements in:
1. Physiological measures (i.e., blood pressure, fasting lipids, triglycerides, and anthropometrics)
2. PA (increase) and sedentary behavior (decrease)
3. PA mediators
4. Employee and organizational psychosocial constructs
This study was approved by the appropriate IRBs and the University Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects
Randomized controlled trial
Primary study design
Secondary study design
Randomised controlled trial
Patient information sheet
Not available in web format, please use the contact details to request a patient information sheet
Physical inactivity, sedentary behavior, obesity
Participants were randomized to the Usual Break (control group), Computer Prompt, or Booster Break condition. The Usual Break condition included usual or typical work break practices and behaviors. The two interventions were developed to be consistent with the WHO Healthy Workplace Framework and Model. The individualized Computer Prompt condition was designed to interrupt prolonged sitting time by introducing 3-minute breaks, 5 times per day. The group-based Booster Break condition was a peer-led, once-a-day, 15-minute PA session that guides employees through a series of stretching, strengthening, and aerobic movements followed by a brief meditation.
Primary outcome measure
1. Lipid profile
2. Blood pressure
5. International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ)
6. Pedometer readings
Measures were taken at baseline and immediately after the intervention (i.e after 6 months)
Secondary outcome measures
Physical activity mediators and employee and organizational psychosocial constructs: self-report assessments at baseline and immediately after the intervention (i.e after 6 months)
Overall trial start date
Overall trial end date
Reason abandoned (if study stopped)
Participant inclusion criteria
1. Participants’ jobs required sitting for at least 5 hours per day
2. English proficiency
3. Full-time employment [35–40 hours/week]
4. Age >17 years
5. No physician-limited physical activity
Target number of participants
3 clusters, 5 departments in each cluster, 5 to 15 individuals in each department
Participant exclusion criteria
1. Physician prohibited physical activity
2. Part-time employees
Recruitment start date
Recruitment end date
Countries of recruitment
United States of America
Trial participating centre
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
School of Public Health CHPPR 7000 Fannin Street Suite 2670
United States of America
National Institutes of Health
The National Institutes of Health, NIH
Funding Body Type
Funding Body Subtype
United States of America
Results and Publications
Publication and dissemination plan
Intention to publish date
Participant level data
Not expected to be available
Basic results (scientific)
2010 feasibility study results in: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21099018
2013 participants' perspectives in: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23466367
2016 results in: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27854422