Lately, I’ve been telling you about research that shows if you sit too much during the day, even if you work out for an hour each day, you still are putting your health at risk. As I’ve mentioned before, the human body is designed for frequent movement.
Sitting many hours working at a desk job, watching television, browsing the internet, writing emails, or hanging out on Facebook, may be the reason behind the rise in “diabesity” in our country – type 2 diabetes caused by obesity. Yet, an ingenious technological solution exists to help us sit less, move more, and become healthier even while working 8 hours a day. Don’t scratch your head…read on to learn more…
Walk, Work, Save Your Life – How to Do It
As a doctor who works with anti-aging techniques with patients every day, I’m always on the lookout for anything new – technology, procedures, natural substances, etc. – that will boost your health and keep you younger in the process. If it boosts your productivity at work, or helps you multi-task in your personal life, as well, that’s just icing on the cake.
So, when I looked into a treadmill desk, and all the health benefits it offered to people who had desk jobs, or spent a considerable amount of time on their computers for several hours a day, I couldn’t wait to share it with you.
As its name says, a treadmill desk is an elevated desk with room for your (any standard) treadmill beneath it. The desktop has enough room for your computer monitor, CPU (if you have a desk computer), or a laptop, a place for your water bottle, or cup of coffee, and enough room for a file holder, etc. The best part of a treadmill desk is that it allows you to walk while you work. If you think that it’s not possible to both walk and concentrate on your work at the same time – it’s true, you really can. In fact, it may even make you more productive by keeping you more alert and utilizing your food as energy better.
Walking at a treadmill desk, you’ll be going very slowly, like about 1 to 2 miles per hour, tops. If you’re curious about how slow this really is, try it out on your home or gym treadmill. It’s more like standing and casually shifting weight on each foot instead of walking. Now, you can move at that speed for the duration of your workday, or you can walk for part of the time, turn the treadmill off and stand for a while, or take a 10-15 minute break at your desk and turn up the speed to 3, then slow it back down, or stop it altogether.
The point of the treadmill desk is you’re not sitting. You’re either standing, or, better yet, you’re moving – slowly, but still moving. Recent research has revealed that standing instead of sitting is much more beneficial to your health. Walking is even better. In fact, I was shocked to learn that walking this slowly for several hours at a time can still burn anywhere between 500 and 1,000 calories. That’s about 1-2 lbs. a week, or 52-100 lbs. a year, without restrictive dieting, just doing your work, surfing the internet, or even watching television on your laptop.
Think about it, you wouldn’t have to drag yourself to a gym several times a week after work as by the time you were done working each day you’d also be finished with a workout. And if you’re not working, and just using it at home in leisurely TV watching, or computer usage, you can get in a built-in workout at the same time.
Here are 5 more of the top health and fitness benefits of using a treadmill desk:
1. Like all exercise, working with a treadmill desk reduces stress and depression 30% to 40% faster than medication, says a recent study out of Harvard Medical School.
2. Improves memory, alertness and cognition by 15% in 6 months, and slows mental and physical aging processes.
3. Studies done by the American Diabetes Association says it can reduce the risk of getting type 2 diabetes by 50%. Remember, obesity is the no.1 cause of type 2 diabetes. Exercising, even very slowly for several hours at a time, better utilizes sugars in your blood as well as burns calories from your food before they’re stored as fat.
4. Reduces the risk of cancer by 30% to 70%, says National Institute of Health statistics. Obesity creates pro-inflammatory hormones called cytokines that can set the stage for cancers to develop.
5. Reduces the risk of heart disease 90%, and the risk of stroke 70%, says the American Heart Association.
Are You Ready for a Treadmill Desk?
Granted, treadmill desks, or even standing desks, are not cheap. If you work at home though, and already have a standard treadmill, a basic treadmill desk costs around $400 or so. That’s a pretty good price for all the health benefits you’re getting back. Of course, you can get models with more bells and whistles for upwards of a few thousand.
Even if you just used the desk at home, on a leisurely basis, think of all the hours you spend watching television or surfing the internet. For most people, that turns out to be at least 2-4 hours a day – time that you could easily fit in an hour’s walk or even light run. In addition, if the desk made you exercise more, think about the money you’d be saving. You could give up your expensive gym membership just to walk, or run, on their treadmill or track. After a year, your treadmill desk likely would have paid for itself. You could even be visiting your doctor a lot less, and even spending a lot less money on office co-pays and expensive medications.
Now, getting your boss to get you a treadmill desk may be a tough task, but maybe they’d be convinced if they knew how much more healthy and productive you could be with it. Having a fitness incentive in the workplace can help decrease insurance premiums as well.
According to people who have switched over to working on a treadmill, or standing desk, they’ve experienced a real boost in their overall health, cardiorespiratory fitness, as well as muscle strength. They’ve lost weight pretty effortlessly as well as decreased water retention/aching in their calves, ankles and feet from keeping legs in a dependent, sitting position for many hours. Whichever way you chose to use a treadmill desk in your life, work or leisure, I think it’s an amazing technology that can help fight aging, maintain muscle and bone strength, boost endurance, keep your mind and body healthier, and you working longer!
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.