Margaret Rich walks while she works on her TrekDesk treadmill desk at Aero-Flo Industries in the Kingsbury Industrial Park Friday. Rich is so enthusiastic about the experience she has moved her traditional desk to the other side of the office.

Margaret Rich, nurse at Aero-Flo Industries was hooked after watching Dr. James Levine of Mayo Clinic on the Today Show when he talked about the benefits of treadmill desks. 

“I thought the concept of walking slowly during the course of the day while you are working and multitasking was intriguing. At the end of the day, you may have walked two to five miles,” said Rich.  

Science may even favor getting walking in the workplace. “Studies have shown that it is better and healthier to be upright and walking at your desk instead of sitting,” said Rich. 

Health benefits are just one reason to adopt the habit. “It is better for your lower back.  You will sleep better at night and you do not have the after lunch coma that people who sit at a desk may experience,” said Rich. As someone with osteoporosis, Rich finds this form of weight baring exercise to be important. 

There is a positive effect on productivity.  “If you sleep better at night, you feel better the next day,” said Rich.  You will also be more responsive in the case of the unforeseen.  “The person who is in better shape is a little better prepared if the car breaks down and you have to walk a mile to get help.  If you are already walking five miles a day on the treadmill, you are more prepared for an emergency and you are in better shape,” said Rich.

You can track your progress.  “It will give you your distance, speed, calories expended and the incline if you choose to incline your desk,” said Rich.  This way your goals will become closer to reach.  “My goal is ultimately 5 miles a day which would be 100 miles in a week and 1,200 miles in a year,” said Rich.

The treadmill desk can be found online. “It is a special desk that is designed to fit over a treadmill, so it sits up high and wide to fit over the treadmill,” said Rich. 

Though not often talked about, walking at work has caught on across the nation.  “I read an article about radiologists at a hospital in the northeast putting treadmill desks in their offices so they can choose to be upright and walking while they look at x-rays all day.  They said they were more alert and were able to concentrate better,” said Rich.

Locals are getting with the trend as well.  “There are large companies that offer treadmill desks to their employees with the hope that they will be healthier and not have as many insurance claims.  The companies will benefit and the employees will benefit,” said Rich. Soon, you may talk to a neighbor or friend and find that they have started walking at work too. “I really believe that this will continue to grow,” said Rich.

Once you have tried the treadmill desk, you may never sit down again. “I do not think I will ever go back to a full-time sit-down desk again because it is too sedentary. From a health standpoint, that is not what our bodies are made to be doing,” said Rich.

Treadmill desks can become a family affair. “I am trying to set an example for my children on maintaining a healthier lifestyle across the board,” said Rich.  Pets are no exception.  “We have a little shih-tzu dog that comes to the office everyday. She is our company dog and I am working with her to train her to walk on the treadmill desk,” said Rich.

There are several other things you should have on your to-do list for heart health month. “Not smoking cigarettes, trying to maintain an ideal weight and getting regular exercise is generally what I see being advised by physicians,” said Rich.

Spreading the word about the treadmill desk just may be the best way to have an impact on the cardiovascular health and fitness of our community. “Maybe somebody will say they got a treadmill desk because they read this article and their cholesterol and blood pressure went down and they felt great,” said Rich.

By Jamie Lober
For The Herald-Argus

Published: Tuesday, February 23, 2010 8:58 AM CST

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