Rethinking Healthcare

You too may soon have a treadmill desk

Posting in Energy

An increasing number of companies keep their office workers walking on the job.

We've heard it again and again in recent years - sitting all day could take years off our lives. But unfortunately, standing's not so great for you either. It's hard on your back, your circulatory system, and your fine motor skills.

Fortunately, there's a third option for the office-bound: treadmill desks.

Invented by the Mayo Clinic's Dr. James Levine in 2005, the concept features a slow moving treadmill rigged with a computer-ready desk.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the healthcare company Humana has purchased forty Walkstations in recent years. Those models come in at $4300, but set-ups under $1000 can be found online, along with instructions on how to build your own treadmill desk.

Other workplaces that now offer the walking desk option include Mutual of Omaha, GlaxoSmithKline, Best BuyGeorgia Poison Center, and Missouri University.

Author A.J. Jacobs brought the desks greater notoriety this Spring when he featured them in his book Drop Dead Healthy. The Esquire editor tried out hundreds of health-conscious life adjustments in researching his book, and the treadmill desk was one of the few he stuck with.

"I spent 14 hours a day sitting," he told USA Today, "Now, I find if I walk more, I have more energy." He figures he walked 1,200 miles while putting his book together.

There's a smart financial incentive for companies to offer the rigged-up desk sets. Teadmill desks can burn 100 to 130 calories an hour, achieving what often-underused corporate gyms fail to do: they keep employees in shape, which drives down a company's healthcare premiums.

Besides the liklihood of exhaustion from an eight hour "walk day," there's also the question of impact on job focus. Tell SmartPlanet what you think, could you work as well while walking?

Photos: instructables.com and KOMUnews/Flickr

Audrey Quinn

Contributing Writer

Audrey Quinn is a Brooklyn-based multimedia journalist focused on health, tech and the economy. Her radio stories can be heard on Marketplace, Studio 360, PRI's The World, NPR's Latino USA, Deutsche Welle Radio and The Believer Magazine podcast. In addition to her work with CBS Interactive she produces multimedia science stories for online publications and is a teaching assistant at the Transom Story Workshop. Her investigative work has been awarded by the Fund for Investigative Journalism and The Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure