Study after study shows that our sedentary lifestyle is killing us. The most recent evidence comes from a large research project conducted by Weill Cornell Medical Center.
It followed nearly 8,000 people over 45 for four years. Scientists found that people sit for an average of 12.3 hours out of their 16 waking hours. And the more they sit, the more likely they are to die from any cause.
Just a little extra sitting is lethal. People who sat 13 hours a day had twice the risk of death of those who sat for 11 hours a day.1
But when you spend 8-10 hours working in an office, how is it possible to reduce sitting time?
One answer is a so-called “active” workstation. They allow you to do desk and computer work while moving. Some of them use a treadmill. Others allow you to pedal or use an elliptical trainer.
But many employers have been resistant. They fear that active work stations will decrease worker productivity. A new study shows that’s not true.
Researchers at Rutgers University recruited 58 workers who normally sat at a desk. Then they compared the workers’ ability to perform certain tasks while seated at a traditional desk and while walking at slow speeds on a treadmill desk.2
The researchers found that the speed and quality of work were largely unaffected by an active workstation. Workers were just as good at multitasking, resisting distraction, and being productive as they were when sitting in a chair.
There was only performance area that suffered. That was in planning ability. But the amount was so slight that it was almost negligible.
Researchers concluded: “Active workstations may be an effective way to reduce the public health threat of sedentary behavior without negatively affecting executive function.”3
The study was published in a recent issue of journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
Active work stations can be expensive. The TrekDesk used in the study costs about $550. It can be attached to many types of treadmills. They cost at least another $600.
Top 7 Best Active Workstations
Here’s a list of active workstations that get top ratings:4
- TrekDesk Treadmill Desk
- Exerpeutic 2000 WorkFit Desk Station Electric Treadmill
- Lifespan TR800-DT5 Treadmill Desk
- ProForm 505 CST Treadmill
- Exerpeutic Fitness Walking Electric Treadmill
- Weslo Cadence G 5.9 Treadmill
- Stamina InMotion Manual Treadmill
8 Ways to Get the Most Out of an Exercise Desk
Many of us have had the experience of ordering exercise equipment only to find that we never use it. It ends up gathering dust in a corner. Here are eight ways to successfully integrate an active workstation into your office life:5
- Buy it assembled. Most exercise desks are sold as DIY kits. For an extra fee, you can order it assembled. Pay it. Unless you’re an engineer, assembly can take hours and be frustrating.
- Buy an under-treadmill mat. These protect the floor from damage. And they provide sound isolation.
- Buy a wireless keyboard with a Bluetooth connection. This will give you more versatility in positioning.
- Set the proper height for monitor arms and keyboard trays. This is essential for comfort, productivity, and preventing repetitive strain injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Most workstations come with positioning instructions. Follow them closely.
- Wear proper footwear. Leave the wingtips or pumps at home. If you don’t wear comfortable walking shoes, you’ll get blisters or develop other foot problems.
- Start slow. Begin with a 15-minute session in the morning. After a few days, add another 15 minutes in the afternoon. Gradually extend each session by 15 minutes.
- Walk slow. Nearly all workers are comfortable at a speed of 1.2-1.8 mph. Some can maintain productivity at a speed of up to 2.5 mph. But they are a minority.
- Use a headset. This allows you to make and answer calls while using your computer and using the exerciser.
One more thing… If you can’t use an active workstation, simply get up and move every 30 minutes. Set an alarm on your computer or cell phone to remind yourself.6