Our bodies have evolved over millions of years to move us in our pursuit of food, shelter and happiness yet in the last 100 years our industrialized workplace has changed us from active to sedentary workers overnight. This constant movement is integral to our health, allowing numerous interacting bodily functions to operate properly.
In an evolutionary wink of an eye we have forced a change on our bodies that threatens our health. Most Americans and a growing number of citizens in industrialized countries now suffer from an extreme lack of movement during the day due to their occupations. Chairs, it appears, are killing us.
We are bombarded daily with messages as to why we as a nation are overweight and the fixes and offered cures are limitless, yet the simplest solution backed by solid medical evidence seems to gain little attention. We were built to walk. Our bodies need to walk throughout the day for optimum health.
A 10 year medical study completed by Dr. James Levine at the Mayo Health Clinic found that the main difference between lean and overweight people is the amount of movement in their daily lives. On average, a healthy person moves more than 2.5 hours in a day than an individual who is overweight. This translates into a weight loss of approximately 36 pounds a year for the healthy individual and is the main reason they remain weight proportionate.
So, there we have it. The $100 Billion annual cost of obesity related diseases in the United States could be reduced significantly if we all started walking that extra 2.5 hours daily.
Sounds simple, right? Try telling that to a single parent who is struggling to just get through his or her day with their list of things to do. The last thing any of us need is more advice telling us what we already know unless they offer a solution.
Well, Dr. Levine did just that. He worked with SteelCase to design a workstation product that allows an individual to walk at a treadmill while working. Bottom line: it works and it works well. Levine estimates an individual can lose 50-60 lbs a year, while working. This also has other tremendous benefits for your health. Your lymphatic system is activated when you move meaning you fend of disease easier (when you sit, it literally shuts off).
Walking has been shown to alleviate or prevent the greatest health risks to Americans today including cancer, heart disease, mild depression, and Type II diabetes. Actually there are many more health advantages to using a treadmill desk.
So, if the answer is so simple why isn’t this front page news? First, in just a few generations we have convinced ourselves that sitting all day is acceptable behavior. Our work area designs reflect our bias towards this sedentary status. The idea of walking at work is radical in many peoples minds, when in fact it should be the other way around.
Second, the cost at $6,500 is prohibitive to many. Enter American ingenuity. A company has designed a work desk and exercise ball chair that fits existing treadmills at a fraction of the cost of the WalkStation. It is called TrekDesk (you can read about it at http://www.trekdesk.com). There are a few other distinct advantages to this design as well. Since it fits existing treadmills you have a much broader selection of treadmills at your discretion. The WalkStation does not have an elevation feature (which allows you to increase the calorie burn tremendously), you can literally burn 2x the amount of calories utilizing the elevation feature. It also allows dual use of your treadmill, you can simply leave the desk intact and flip up the center console and your treadmill can be used for more rigorous aerobic exercise.
An Exercise Ball Chair is another feature worth considering. It’s base slides underneath your treadmill and if features a universal fitting swing arm that literally swings the chair into position when you need it or swings out of the way when you are ready to walk again. The advantage to the exercise ball chair is that it engages core muscles while you are sitting, burning calories and strengthening your body.
If you are ready to take back your health, end your day feeling more energized than when you started, reduce stress and lose weight each and every day you work than a treadmill desk is for you.