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Move Over Swiss Ball, There's a New Desk In Town!

Posted Sep 14 2008 3:59pm
A new research study by James Levine describes the effects of implementing an upright, treadmill desk for office workers. The desk is designed so that workers can stand up and walk on the treadmill as they do their work. The goal of this is to increase calorie expenditure throughout the year, thus minimizing worker obesity. In the study, workers walked 35 minutes out of each hour, burning about 100 calories an hour more than usual. The Wall Street Journal Health Blog asked Dr. Levine some questions about this.
I encourage you to read some of the highly amusing comments to the WSJ blog on this topic. People are just insanely enthusiastic about it. My favorite comment was by one Marc, who suggested a Green twist to the treadmill desk as he would like to route the output back into the "grid" to save the firm on utility bills! HA! Output! A treadmill is an absolute energy hog, Marc.
I'm sure the real cost of this desk is well above the $2000 list price when you factor in energy costs, a whole new onslaught of worker overuse injuries, and the resulting high insurance premiums "the firm" would then face.
This seems like a perfect example of the media getting hold of a piece of science, overstating it, creating a furor and an instant fad. An excerpt from the interview:
"Q: These desks cost about $2,000 each. Is anyone besides you using them now?
A: Several Fortune 20 companies are involved. One has 20 units, others are being delivered. We’re turning away large companies. The level of interest is far beyond what it is possible for us to respond to. There are several thousand people doing this around the country. I get — at least every day — requests of where can I buy these?"
In James Levine's defense, I guess his logic is solid. The treadmill project was born after he performed a previous investigation which found obese people spent 2 hours longer a day sitting compared to non-obese people. And to be honest, we should all find more ways to walk in a day.

I'm going to begin calling the companies purchasing these treadmills and offer to provide them on-site clinics to treat sore knees, shins, and feet.

Labels: Questionable Practices, Research, Science Literacy

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