The Treadmill Desk: 4 Best Tips for Improved Health and Productivity

Standing desks, treadmill desks and health are hot topics in the workplace, whether in the home office or a corporate office. But how to use a treadmill desk, get the best long-term health results and maintain your productivity? NPR correspondent Patti Neighmond discussed this in Can You Move It and Work It on a Treadmill Desk? “When I first started, I thought I’d simply hop on the treadmill and be off walking all day while working. But it turns out it’s really hard to walk, talk, think and concentrate.”

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Treadmill desk in action. Improve your health and maintain your productivity with 4 tips


Neighmond consulted James Levine, an obesity expert at the Mayo Clinic, who developed the treadmill desk concept. “There’s a tendency to want to jump on the treadmill and walk for hours and hours a day,” he says. “Don’t do that.”

4 Tips on How to Get the Most Out of Your Treadmill Desk:

  1. “At the absolute maximum, do half-hour on, half an hour off, for two to three hours a day.” This is supported by the results of a small study: “For six months, employees rotated on and off the desks, walking, on average, about three hours a day. Everyone lost weight. And overall, …health improved. Total cholesterol decreased, plasma triglycerides dropped on average 37 percent in total for all 18 participants.”  And productivity didn’t suffer, during the six months of the study, revenues were the highest ever. The environment was simply “more dynamic.”
  2. The most popular treadmill activity, Levine says, is the “walk and talk” meeting. “They’re generally shorter, more productive, and people don’t fall asleep during walk-and-talk meetings.”
  3.  Not every activity lends itself to the treadmill desk, Levine found that walking impacted “mouse performance.”
  4. “I can write e-mails, read, have phone conversations. But I haven’t yet written a story while walking. Levine and others say certain complicated or creative tasks are often still done best while sitting. “

Your goal is to win both health and productivity in the long-run (pun intended).

photo by Sarah Karney/KOMUnews