The Evidence Behind SMART Work & Life

The SMART Work & Life programme is based on 7 years of development and testing by the research team. Find out more below:


Researchers from the University of Leicester and Loughborough University wanted to develop an evidence-based programme to help desk-based workers to reduce the time they spent sitting.

The research team spent 12 months working with desk-based workers to design and develop a programme called SMART Work*.

The SMART Work* programme included:

  • an education workshop
  • provision of height adjustable desks/platforms
  • a device to keep track of sitting time and provide movement reminders
  • feedback on sitting behaviour
  • action planning and goal setting
  • motivational posters
  • brief 'catch up/progress' sessions with the research team

Click here to read more about how we developed the programme.


The research team then tested how well the SMART Work programme worked for reducing sitting and improving health and well-being in desk-based workers within the National Health Service (NHS). They used the gold standard research methodology to do this - a randomised controlled trial. After 12 months, they found:

  • Reductions in sitting whilst at work
  • Increases in job performance
  • Improvements in lower back, neck and upper extremity musculoskeletal issues
  • Reductions in sickness presenteeism
  • Reductions in fatigue
  • Greater staff engagement
  • Increases in quality of life

Take a look at our infographic which highlights our evidence of this programme. If you want more detailed information check out our paper published in the prestigious British Medical Journal.


The research team worked out how much money an employer would save if they ran SMART Work programme in their company. They calculated a cost-benefit analyses to do this and found:

  • The programme was found to be cost-saving = £2.56 returned for every £1 spent
  • Further costs savings were shown when staff used simpler, free tools to self-monitor sitting time and prompt breaks in sitting resulting in £4.72 returned for every £1 spent
  • Employee productivity improved by an average of 1.75 hours per week over a 12 month period

If you wish to find out more about the cost-benefit analysis, read our paper, which was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.


*Following all the research described above, the SMART Work programme was subsequently refined and renamed SMART Work & Life to encourage less sitting not just whilst working but also in leisure time. The SMART Work & Life programme is currently being tested on a large scale within councils in the UK. The results will be available in 2021. You can read more about the SMART Work & Life evaluation here. We are evaluating the programme with and without the provision of a height-adjustable workstation.


Here's what some of the SMART Work programme users said:

I feel much more energised!

Joe H

Aches and pains have reduced!

Steve W

I feel much more productive!

Allison B

It has increased my concentration!

Daljit R

We have standing meetings, these tend to be shorter and more focussed

Angel C