If you’re anxious about reports that sitting at a desk all day is shortening your life span, you might be considering a standing desk. But why stand still when you can get exercise and work simultaneously?
A person using the treadmill desk walks slowly on the treadmill while continuing to perform office tasks at the desk. The aim of a treadmill desk is to integrate movement and gentle exercise into the working day of an otherwise sedentary office worker. Rather than sitting all day in a chair, a treadmill desk allows desk-based workers to stand and take a slow walk while working. At slower walking speeds, most able-bodied people can undertake desk-based tasks such as typing or talking on the telephone.
The New York Times credits Dr. James Levine, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic, as the popular inspiration for the treadmill desk. He developed the concept as part of his work with non-exercise activity thermogenesis, constructing a treadmill desk by placing a bedside hospital tray over a $400 treadmill. Dr. Seth Roberts, a professor of psychology from UC Berkeley designed a treadmill desk in 1996, and may be the earliest user.
A treadmill desk is not typically used for a cardio workout, as most users find walking at a speed of 1-2 miles per hour the ideal range.According to a study by James Levine at the Mayo Clinic, users can burn an estimated 100-130 calories per hour at speeds slower than 2 miles per hour. According to a 2007 Mayo Clinic study of office workers with obesity, “If sitting computer-time were replaced by walking-and-working, energy expenditure could increase by 100 cal/h. Thus, if obese individuals were to replace time spent sitting at the computer with walking computer time by 2–3 h/day, and if other components of energy balance were constant, a weight loss of 20–30 kg/year could occur.”