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Beware of the Chair Logo

Beware of the Chair

NHS Highland Occupational Health Physiotherapists Lesley Marshall and Michelle Smith created and implemented the ‘Beware of the Chair’ campaign which aimed to educate NHS Highland staff about the health risks attached to high levels of sedentary behaviour. It’s aim was to improve staff health and wellbeing.

Many NHS staff spend a lot of time sitting at their desk. This can cause back, neck and shoulder pain and staff having low activity levels. This has a negative effect on the musculoskeletal system and general health therefore the intervention was developed to decrease sedentary time in the workplace.  Aimed at all staff, the intervention was particularly targeted at groups at risk of being sedentary most of their working day e.g. managers and administrative staff.

The ‘Beware of the Chair’ campaign was communicated to staff via posters, leaflets, the staff magazine and on Twitter. The health benefits of breaking up sitting time as well as the risks associated with sedentary behaviour was the main message. The campaign also attracted favourable press coverage with an article published on the BBC website.

Having physiotherapists leading the campaign added validity as staff were assured that the information was based on in-depth knowledge. Having the time to discuss the campaign with staff on an individual basis, with the use of information boards in the workplace enabled staff to become engaged with the campaign.

Challenges with developing and delivering the intervention were encountered.  In the beginning it was strongly advised that the wording was changed from ‘sitting kills’ to ‘beware of the chair’. The intervention has been delivered by two part-time staff who have been responsible for the campaign in addition to delivering their Occupational Health Physiotherapy roles.  No additional resources have been provided to sustain the campaign.

Positive feedback from events has helped facilitate on-going delivery.  The campaign has evolved itself, allowing for change to occur in response to the feedback received.

To date there has not been any measurement or evaluation of the intervention.  There is currently anecdotal evidence of how well the campaign is working, and it is possible the impact of the campaign may be measured in the future.  No evaluation of sedentary time was taken before ‘beware of the chair’ started, so it is not possible to measure behaviour change following it’s introduction. Targets were not set at the outset of the campaign.

You can download the campaign leaflets and posters here:

Beware of the Chair Leaflet
Beware of the Chair Poster
Staying Alive Poster

The posters are free for use providing they are not altered in any way and NHS Highland is referenced.

For further information on ‘Beware of the Chair’ contact


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