Sport Sciences for Health

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 375–383 | Cite as

Effects of alternating standing and sitting compared to prolonged sitting on cerebrovascular hemodynamics

  • Sophy J. PerdomoEmail author
  • Bethany Barone Gibbs
  • Robert J. Kowalsky
  • John M. Taormina
  • Jeffrey R. Balzer
Original Article



Previous research suggests that prolonged sitting may acutely reduce cerebral blood flow velocity (CBFv). The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of alternating standing and sitting vs prolonged sitting on CBFv.


This randomized crossover study enrolled working adults (N = 25) with pre-to-stage 1 hypertension not using antihypertensive medications, and a body mass index (BMI) from 25 to < 40 kg/m2. Subjects participated in two simulated workday conditions: (1) sitting continuously (SIT), and (2) alternating standing and sitting every 30 min (SS). Beat-to-beat systolic, mean and diastolic CBFv were recorded bilaterally for 1 min via insonation of the middle cerebral artery using transcranial Doppler ultrasonography before (morning), between (midday) and following (afternoon) two 3-h 40 min work periods.


Mean ± SD age was 42 ± 12 years, blood pressure (BP) was 132 ± 9/83 ± 8 mmHg, and BMI was 32 ± 5 kg/m2. Cerebrovascular hemodynamics did not differ across condition (P > 0.05). There were, however, significant nonlinear effects of time (decrease from morning to midday; increase from midday to afternoon) on systolic CBFv (P = 0.014), mean CBFv (P = 0.001), diastolic CBFv (P = 0.002), and pulsatility index (P = 0.038). When overall time effects were evaluated during each time interval, mean and diastolic CBFv significantly decreased morning to midday and all CBFv increased from midday to afternoon. When separated by condition, significant time effects were observed for all CBFv during SIT (P < 0.02) but not SS (P > 0.05).


In individuals with elevated BP and BMI, CBFv significantly decreased by midday and increased by afternoon, especially during a workday of prolonged sitting. Future studies should evaluate the combination of frequent walks and a sit-stand desk to break up prolonged sitting.


Sedentary behaviour Sit-stand desk Cerebrovascular hemodynamics Transcranial Doppler 



Blood pressure


Cerebral blood flow velocity


Carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity


Carotid-radial pulse wave velocity


Diastolic blood pressure


Mean arterial pressure


Pulse pressure


Pulse wave velocity


Transcranial Doppler ultrasonography



The authors would like to thank Humanscale and the National Institutes of Health through Grant Number UL1TR000005 (University of Pittsburgh CTSI, providing research registry support) for their support. The authors would also like to thank University of Pittsburgh's K. Leroy Irvis Fellowship and the University of Kansas Alzheimer's Disease Center (P30 AG035982) for supporting Dr. Perdomo's time.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Dr. Gibbs discloses funding from Humanscale. Drs. Perdomo, Kowalsky, Balzer and Mr. Taormina disclose no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Written informed consent was obtained from all participants.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia S.r.l., part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Health and Physical ActivityUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Department of Neurological SurgeryUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  3. 3.Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation ScienceUniversity of Kansas Medical CenterKansas CityUSA
  4. 4.Department of Health and KinesiologyTexas A&M University-KingsvilleKingsvilleUSA

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