Too much sitting is bad for your health. One response to this has been the emergence of standing desks, desks that allow you to work while standing instead of sitting. The treadmill desk, a standing desk equipped with a treadmill, takes the concept further, enabling you to walk while you work.
Brigham Young University researchers recruited 75 healthy volunteers to work for 45 minutes, either walking at a treadmill desk or sitting at a conventional desk.
Those who switched to a treadmill desk were able to work just about as well as they did when sitting at a conventional desk, researchers found.
People processed thoughts a bit more slowly, though not significantly so, when working at a treadmill desk. In general, workers performed over 90% as well while walking as they did while sitting. Typing speed also went down — by about 13 words per minute. And the authors offer two potential ways to fix that.
First, they note that they used desks whose height was fixed, while many other desk models are adjustable, which would allow a worker to set the height that lets them type the best. And people in this study were also given only five-minutes to become acquainted with the treadmill desk before being tested. It’s possible that a longer period of adjustment would boost typing speed.
Even if treadmill desks prove unsatisfactory for typing, there are a host of work activities, such as reading reports or checking emails, which require little in the way of motor skills. And as for activities where there is a minor drop off in productivity, the health benefit to employees may more than offset this. After all, any company with long-term plans is likely to need long-term employees. And that means healthy employees.