Ergonomics Office safety Worker health and wellness

Study finds few health benefits from treadmill desks

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Corvallis, OR – Workers who use treadmill desks experience a slight increase in physical activity but reap few health benefits, a study from Oregon State University suggests.

About 40 overweight or obese workers at a health insurance company participated in the 12-week study, with half using treadmill desks.

Data indicated that workers who used the treadmill desks increased their average number of daily steps by more than 1,000, added nearly two minutes of physical activity per hour, and decreased their sedentary time by nearly four minutes per hour. However, they did not significantly lose weight or alter their body mass index.

The workers used the treadmills only about half the requested time, and on average, they walked 1.8 mph – which would be considered light activity, according to a press release. Health guidelines suggest adults get 30 minutes of moderate or intense physical activity several days a week.

Researchers said that although increasing steps might gain cardiovascular and other health benefits, the benefits might not outweigh the cost of treadmill desks, and workers would likely need to perform more physical activity to combat effects of sedentary behavior.

The study was published in the December issue of the Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine.