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Walking On The Job: Treadmill Desks

Susy Guerrero |
October 3, 2013 | 6:54 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

From sleeping on the job to walking on the job (npr.org)
From sleeping on the job to walking on the job (npr.org)
Working a nine-to-five job can be draining, especially if you’re sitting down for the majority of the day. Feeling exhausted isn't the worst of it--heart disease, diabetes and obesity arecorrelated with individuals who don’t get enough exercise or live a sedentary lifestyle.

Fortunately for some business men and women, companies like Intel, Google and Microsoft are adopting a special type of equipment that gets their employees moving as they work. Enter the treadmill desk, a hybrid between a treadmill and a desk.

Unlike your average treadmill, a treadmill desk doesn't have handles but instead a flat surface at the top of the machine where you can place your laptop or paperwork. The speeds are slow--they range from one to three mph. The low-impact speeds actually help with weight loss, promote blood flow and improve your overall mood. 

Dr. James Levine, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic, created the first treadmill desk in 1996. For the first model, Dr. Levine simply placed a bedside hospital tray over a $400 treadmill. Companies have adapted his original idea and now make treadmill desks that range in price from $800 to a whopping $5000. 

Some people opt for homemade versions, where they simply add raised tables to an already-purchased machine: an ideal solution for those who work from home.

Susan Orlean, a New Yorker staff writer, describes her homemade treadmill desk in an NPR interview: “It's a bit of an ungainly looking thing… I have a normal desk and then I have a kind of platform that sits on it and my computer sits on that platform... I stand on the treadmill, and I walk and I work on my computer, and I do phone calls, and I read and I do all the things that I normally do.” 

Celebrities such as Jimmy Kimmel and Al Roker are also fans of treadmill desks.

LifeSpan is one of the few companies that carries treadmill desks. They currently have nine different models. In addition to their treadmill desks, LifeSpan also makes bike desks where you can pedal as you work. 

Obviously, not all companies are equipped with treadmill desks. It's good practice to incorporate a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity per day, either before or after your work day.

Reach Staff Reporter Susy Guerrero here.



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