As the prevalence of treadmill desks in the office environment has increased over the last few years, many people have worried that the use of the workstation would have a negative impact on the quality of their work. Not so according to a study published in the journal Obesity. Results of the study show that a treadmill desk may improve the health of office workers without affecting work performance.
The study followed 36 employees (25 women and 11 men) who volunteered to trade their regular desk for a treadmill desk for one year. Fifteen of the employees were overweight and 11 were obese. Before installation of the treadmill desks, the participants’ average time spent walking per day was 70 minutes. At six months walking time increased to 128 minutes, and declined slightly to 109 minutes by the end of the study. Time spent being sedentary for the entire day fell from 1,020 minutes per day at the start of the study to 978 minutes per day by the end of the study. And, the workers lost an average of slightly more than three pounds over the year.
The workers derived health benefits over the course of the study and reduced time being sedentary during the day. What about their work performance? For the first few months, those who walked the most at their treadmill desks found there was a minor loss in workplace performance as measured by self-assessments and evaluations. However, the work performance of people who worked from a treadmill desk for a year didn’t decline when they adjusted to the treadmill desks. The researchers concluded that once the workers spent more time at the treadmill desks “workplace performance exceeded baseline.”
The bottom line, “Access to treadmill desks may improve the health of office workers without affecting work performance.” Good news for those who want to get up and move at work and continue to excel at their job.
- Koepp, G. A., Manohar, C. U., McCrady-Spitzer, S. K., Ben-Ner, A., Hamann, D. J., Runge, C. F. and Levine, J. A.; Treadmill desks: A 1-year prospective trial; 2013;21(4); pages 705–711
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