A new research has revealed that treadmill desks offer limited benefits, but also pose challenges in the workplace.
Treadmill desks can help overweight or obese office workers get out of their chairs and get moving, but a 12-week study by an Oregon State University researcher found that the increase in physical activity was small and did not help workers meet public health guidelines for daily exercise.
Introducing treadmill desks in the workplace also can pose logistical challenges that may not make such a program feasible for companies, said researcher John M. Schuna.
The researchers found that workers who used the desks increased their average number of daily steps by more than 1,000, but did not record any significant weight loss or changes in Body Mass Index after 12 weeks. The employees only used the treadmills about half the time they were asked to, averaging one session and 45 minutes a day on the machines, Schuna said.
Schuna added that treadmill desks aren't an effective replacement for regular exercise and the benefits of the desks may not justify the cost and other challenges that come with implementing them.
Schuna said that this was not moderate-intensity exercise and one of the challenges with the treadmill desk is that it needs to be lower-intensity activity so employees can still perform their work duties.
Schuna said the findings from this study indicate that future research on exercise in the workplace should focus on interventions that avoid some of the pitfalls that come with treadmill desks, suggesting that they need to identify some form of physical activity that can be done simply and at a low cost in an office setting.
The study is published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.