Lifestyle medicine is defined as the application of environmental, behavioral, medical, and motivational principles to the management of lifestyle-related health problems in a clinical setting. One organization dedicated to lifestyle medicine is the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine (ILM) in Boston. The mission of ILM, founded by Edward M. Phillips, MD, Assistant Professor, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, HarvardMedicalSchool, is to reduce lifestyle-related death and disease in society through clinician-directed interventions with patients. The ILM is at the forefront of a broad-based collaborative effort to transform the practice of primary care through lifestyle medicine. The organization advocates for changes in the healthcare system by empowering clinicians to facilitate behavior change and stimulate a culture of health and wellness for their patients.
Recently a capacity crowd of over 150 physicians and healthcare professionals from around the world attended a two-day Harvard Medical School Department of Continuing Education and ILM course, Active Lives: Transforming Ourselves and Our Patients. This course provided proven strategies to counsel and motivate patients, as well as evidence-based tools and techniques to prescribe individualized exercise programs. Attendees learned about the latest updates in exercise risks and outcomes; best practices for behavioral counseling; and, participated in exercise classes such as Zumba, Tai Chi, and Yoga.
One of the major goals of the course was for physicians to actually participate in physical activity themselves during the event and to learn about the options they have to fill an exercise prescription to help patients stand up and move. With that in mind–new this year–was the availability of both a treadmill and bike workstation—compliments of LifeSpan Fitness–for attendees to use during the lectures. So, not only did everyone learn more about physical activity in general, they also learned about incorporating activity into the workplace. One attendee tweeted on the first day, “Attending Institute of Lifestyle Medicine CME on activity & bike & treadmill to use during lectures. YES!!” Since sitting is the new smoking—an independent disease risk factor–the more we encourage people to move throughout their entire day and make a variety of lifestyle changes, the healthier they will become.
Healthcare providers, through organizations such as ILM and the Exercise is Medicine™ initiative, are learning to lead by example by transforming themselves to help their patients—and they are learning many new creative strategies to do so such as treadmill workstations. David L. Katz, MD, MPH, Director, Yale University Prevention Research Center, in LinkedIn Today asks “Lifestyle as Medicine: At a Fork in the Road, Who’s Got a Spoon?” His answer: “Lifestyle is the best medicine there is, ever was, and likely ever will be…each of us holds the spoon that could get this medicine to go down.”
What does it take to start down the path of lifestyle changes and what do the experts suggest? The good news is everyone agrees that small, steady steps lead to positive results. Use the following tips and tools to help you get started and achieve that healthy lifestyle that you have always wanted.
Get enough rest and sleep. Generally seven to eight hours of sleep each night for adults is recommended.
Balance work and home life. Don’t be married to your job. Enjoy your family and participate in a variety of physical activities that you can all do together.
Focus on a healthy diet. A healthy diet is important to complement an active lifestyle. Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water and limit caffeinated beverages and alcohol.
Think about the way you think. Positive thinking helps with stress management and can even improve your health. Practice overcoming negative self-talk.
Stop and be still. Tai chi, yoga, or any type of meditative activity will give you time alone with yourself—everyone needs that.
Participate in social activities. It is a lot easier to stick with a more active lifestyle if you make it part of social activities by doing things together like hiking, biking, and tennis.
Create an exercise plan. Creating and following a plan is important especially in the initial stages of starting down the path of wellness. A plan can help you focus and stay on track. Online health and fitness management can set your goals, log your exercise activity and health metrics, and assess your progress… all from one central place.
A healthy, active lifestyle is a life-time commitment. Take the above steps right now to pave the way for tomorrow. Determine where you are today and move forward into the future.
How do you boost your energy during the day? Are you consuming the right foods to do so? Vitamin water, protein bars, and energy drinks: do you need them and do they actually have the ability to charge and recharge your battery?
As the saying goes “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Food is important for fueling the body. According to Nancy Clark, M.S., RD, “Whether you work out at the health club, compete with a varsity team, aspire to be an Olympian, or simply are busy playing with your kids, you can nourish yourself with a diet that supports good health and high energy, even if you are eating on the run.”
All-day energy comes from understanding your body and from understanding how to fuel the system. In other words, learning the most effective foods to consume and realizing that real food in the form of complex carbs, protein, and fiber provides natural energy throughout the day.
Think about what you eat and drink every day. Are you consuming the recommended daily amounts of fruits and vegetables? Do you check nutrition labels, monitor serving sizes, and choose natural ingredients whenever possible? Unhealthy foods may have become part of your daily diet and you don’t even realize it. There is hidden fat and sugar in many of the energy bars and sports drinks and you may be fooled by their healthy-eating claims.
Get started today to boost your energy. Track your food consumption for a week. Use the ChooseMyPlate.gov resources to determine if you are getting the recommended daily allowances for each food group. Make changes as needed. More than likely you may find that the working lunch is the biggest challenge and needs the most change especially when you want to beat that “afternoon slump.” Sunny Blende, M.S., Sports Nutritionist recommends a lunch that’s about 50 percent carbs, 30 percent fat, and 20 percent protein “to keep you energized and sated throughout the afternoon.” Learn more here about the healthiest work lunches to incorporate in your daily routine.
Need help and support to get you on the right track? Tools such as the LifeSpan Fitness Club can provide the guidance to get you started and help you achieve a healthy, active lifestyle. What are you waiting for?
When Susan Szenasy of the Metropolis Blog visited this year’s NeoCon annual contract furniture show, she noticed quite a bit of activity at the LifeSpan Treadmill Desk booth. Curious to learn more about the treadmill desk and its LifeSpan origins she sent some questions to Peter Schenk, the president of LifeSpan, a treadmill desk user himself.
The following is a summary of the Q & A interview where Schenk talks about how the LifeSpan Treadmill Desk evolved from its Do It Yourself (DIY) origins as well as the growing desire by employees to get work done and stay healthy at the same time.
How did it begin? The LifeSpan Treadmill Desk began as an experiment. We’d been making treadmills for years, and started seeing people posting pictures of their DIY treadmill desks, using our treadmills! LifeSpan took what we learned from them and made a treadmill that smoothed out the bumps. Each of our design elements seeks to solve a problem: the roomy desktop; cable management; wrist pad; control console directly in front of you; free-standing writing surface; and, height adjustability.
Who is using them? Treadmill desk users are in all industries, and are all ages. The “ideal” treadmill desk customer is anyone who spends a lot of their day sitting in front of a computer. Being sedentary for eight hours a day isn’t good for you and people recognize that. Our customers are in the corporate work environment (about 60 percent) as well as individuals (about 40 percent).
How do companies handle seating and conference groups? Right now companies are either buying individual treadmill desks for individual staff members, or buying multiple treadmill desks for many staffers to share.
What areas of office work does it fit best? The footprint is comparable to a regular desk. Multiple employees generally use and share units located in conference rooms and empty offices.
What did you learn by showing/demonstrating the product at NeoCon? At NeoCon we showed two patent-pending configurations: one that allows two employees to share a treadmill desk within a standard 12 x 12 cubicle, and another that allows multiple employees to walk and work together, on their own units, with shared tables between them. Our booth drew a lot of smiles. Inevitably, after a minute of using a treadmill desk, even the toughest skeptic would say, “Wow, I didn’t expect it to be this easy.”
As Szenasy points out, NeoCon reminded everyone that people are in different places when it comes to changing their work environments. “Some are stuck in the traditional model, with the perception that work and sitting go hand-in-hand. But an increasingly large percentage is now thinking of standing and working as mainstream, so the idea of walking and working is no longer viewed as something just for health-conscious early adopters.”
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
Interesting to think about this issue due to the abundance of research indicating that prolonged sitting is detrimental to a person’s health. Could there be legal issues surrounding the requirement for employees to sit all day especially since 86 percent of American workers do just that in the office?
In Australia, “The National Heart Foundation is lobbying business groups to systematically make regular low level standing activity a workplace requirement armed with the warning they face a legal duty of care to workers on par with banning smoking from the workplace.” Is the office of the future one that provides employees with treadmill desks, standing conferences, and walking meetings?
James A. Levine, M.D., Ph.D, of the Mayo Clinic offers some advice to get us all up and moving into the future and a healthy lifestyle.
Sit less and move more overall. Start simply by standing rather than sitting whenever you have the chance.
Stand while talking on the phone or eating lunch.
If you work at a desk for long periods of time, try a standing desk.
Think about ways to walk while you work such as walking laps with colleagues during a meeting.
Position your work surface above a treadmill — with a computer screen and keyboard on a stand or a specialized treadmill-ready vertical desk — so that you can be in motion throughout the day.
Tell Us: what changes are taking place in your office to help employees stand up and move? We’d like to hear from you.
Want to know how much you sit all day? The Sitting Time Calculator can help and might be the catalyst you need to get YOU up and moving.
If you do, you should. We continue to see the results of research validating the fact that standing, walking, and moving in the workplace is beneficial to a person’s health. Now we learn that adding a walk from home to the office each day provides additional benefits.
According to a new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine people who walk to work are approximately 40 percent less likely to have diabetes as those who drive. The study also found that walking and using public transport were all associated with a lower risk of being overweight than driving or taking a taxi. People who walk to work were also 17 percent less likely to have high blood pressure than people who drive. This study demonstrates associations between active travel to work and a reduced likelihood of being overweight, having diabetes, and having hypertension. Also, more vigorous forms of active travel such as cycling may provide even greater benefits.
The researchers used data from a survey of 20,000 people across the UK and examined how various health indicators related to how people get to work. “This study highlights that building physical activity into the daily routine by walking, cycling or using public transport to get to work is good for personal health ,” said Anthony Laverty, from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London.
“The variations between regions suggest that infrastructure and investment in public transport, walking, and cycling can play a large role in encouraging healthy lives, and that encouraging people out of the car can be good for them as well as the environment,” said Laverty.
Using a standup desk or treadmill workstation in the office should already be a part of your daily routine. Adding a walk to and from the office each day can provide that extra punch to help you achieve your physical activity goals for the week.
The May 20, 2013 issue of the New Yorker Magazine recently ran an article titled “The Walking Alive.”
The Author Susan Orlean had been an avid runner as recently as 2009, but after having a baby and unexpected back surgery found herself shifting to walking for her exercise. As part of this lifestyle change she states that, “the thing with walking, though, is it really does take a lot of time” and of course we all know that in today’s world, people are very time constrained. Her conclusion was that “You have to convert chair time to walking time.”
She ended up buying a LifeSpan treadmill desk that worked with her stand up desk. At LifeSpan we know this as one of our three “DT-3” models where the console is tethered to the front of a LifeSpan treadmill. The console can then be placed in a convenient location on a standing desk with minimal impact on usable desk space.
Susan goes onto say that she set up her office to use her treadmill desk for walking and also have the option to sit and work, but as of the writing of this article she states “I have yet to lower it, because I haven’t had the urge to sit and work.” In fact she states that “I would like to have it known that I have walked while buying shoes online; while Photoshopping pictures of my cats; while e-mailing my son’s soccer coach; and while paying bills.”
Speaking from personal experience, I can add that Walking and Working is easier than most people think. I started with tasks that were easy for me starting with phone calls and webinars. I then moved to reading, and emails. I’m writing this review while walking on my treadmill desk but on occasion still opt to sit when writing.
The New Yorker article is not available as a link but if you’re interested NPR did an interview with Susan discussing her treadmill desk experience.
Research, presented by the American College of Sports Science, shows that using a pedometer aids in less time spent sitting or being sedentary and more time spent being physically active. This study is the first to use pedometers to monitor and reduce sitting time and the first to examine the amount of physical activity versus structured exercise people throughout the day.
The study included 22 women and 4 men, all between the ages of 40 and 66.
Participants completed a 12-week program wearing their pedometers everyday as well as receiving nutrition and exercise tips twice a week. Participants were also encouraged to be active during periods of the day when they generally were sedentary, such as time spent sitting in front of the TV or at the office.
Following the program, researchers found a significant decrease in sitting time and a significant increase in physical activity. Additionally, the average weight decreased by 2.5 pounds for each week spent using the pedometer.
“This is a very simple intervention that can reach a large number of people at a low cost,” said Jeanne Johnston, co-author of the study and clinical associate professor in the School of Public Health’s Department of Kinesiology. “As companies and communities develop programs to increase physical activity and positively impact health parameters such as weight, there is a need to think of the associated costs.”
The LifeSpan MyStride Activity Monitor provides more functionality than a traditional pedometer. The flip USB drive lets users upload their walking activity into their LifeSpan Fitness Club account giving users the ability to track and monitor activity levels over an extended period of time. The Club also allows users to monitor health metrics, set and track goal progression, as well create and join exercise teams.
Whether you are self-employed and working at home or part of a large corporation, LifeSpan Workplace Solutions™ can help you increase physical activity while you work without taking time out of your busy schedule.
The entire Workplace Solutions line is designed to bring physical activity back into the workplace with safe, quiet, and reliable activity stations that are proven effective to improve your health and the health of your employees.