Treadmill desks useful to health

CHICAGO, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- While working memory might not be as efficient with one using a treadmill workstation as one sitting or standing, other types of thinking, such as switching tasks and checking immediate impulses, did not vary across workstations, a University of Michigan (UM) study found.

"We think treadmill work desks are a feasible solution to promote employee health by reducing sedentariness during the work day," said lead author Zhanjia Zhang, a UM doctoral student.

In the study, 24 participants completed the different cognitive tests while sitting, standing and walking at a self-imposed pace of roughly 1.4 mph and a faster pace of 2.1 mph.

The results showed that working memory was slightly impaired during the test where participants had to recall numbers they'd just been shown in a series. But other types of thinking, including switching tasks and checking immediate impulses, were the same whether sitting or standing.

Roughly 46 percent of people spent most of the workday sitting, and studies showed that walking 1 mph burned well over twice as many calories as sitting for the same time period, 191 calories versus 72 calories per hour, respectively.

A person must cut 3,500 calories to lose one pound, so if treadmill desks were widely adopted in the workplace, they could have a positive impact on weight loss. Obesity is a major public health problem in the United States, with roughly two-thirds of adults and one-third of children either overweight or obese.

Two limitations of the study are its small sample size and lack of long-term data.

The study appears online in PLOS One.

[ Editor: Xueying ]


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