Where workers can walk – without leaving their workstations
'Treadmill desks,' company-sponsored or home-built, energize the desk-bound.
(Page 2 of 2)
Other desk-bound workers have gone the build-it-yourself route. After hearing about Levine's studies, Shimon Rura, a freelance software developer in Somerville, Mass., constructed a treadmill desk in his home office last year. He walks barefoot (see photo), checking his e-mail and chatting on the phone throughout the day. His preferred pace and duration: 1-1/2 m.p.h. for six to eight hours each day. His motivation: simple. "I felt I really wasn't getting enough exercise," Mr. Rura says.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
After leaving a job as a floor trader in Chicago, Mr. Buster had gained 25 pounds while sitting at a desk at home. And after working at his makeshift treadmill desk for four months, Buster found he had lost 20 pounds walking 0.7 m.p.h. for about seven hours each day.
His computer monitor is equipped with a virtual map of the United States on which he can overlay the path of his perambulating, in a kind of virtual walking tour of the Lower 48.
"What I find so amazing is how far you can walk in a normal business day while you would otherwise be sitting at your desk," he says – while walking at his desk.
For people who don't have access to a treadmill, Levine suggests other NEAT activities, such as setting up walking meetings with co-workers, installing six-foot-long phone cords so employees can do some limited roaming while they talk, and meeting with co-workers for a walk or yoga class at the end of the day.
It's a workplace lifestyle with positive results, says Levine. The SALO Mayo Clinic study monitored 18 of the 45 participants for weight loss and found that after six months, participants had lost an average of 8.8 pounds. Levine is now conducting studies at 10 companies.
Participants have not only shed weight, he says, but most have also altered their workplace atmospheres.
"There's an energy," Levine says. "There's a zing that was palpable." The study, he says, also hinted at some increased productivity – and within the first three months of the study at SALO he even found that the firm's revenue increased by 10 percent.
Levine imagines a future office landscape "completely different from cube land." It starts with walking, he says, right through interactions of all kinds. The reward: a workplace where the energy flows.
"You want your children to be working in a space that's dynamic." he says. "[You] want people to be intellectually challenged rather than pinging e-mails."