The Press Gets It Wrong – Again

TrekDesk began selling in 2009. Since that time, the pendulum swing of news reporting about the efficacy of treadmill desks has been entertaining, frustrating, and erratic at best. Men’s Health called the TrekDesk the “thigh master” of it’s era, predicting it would fade into obscurity within a year. Many reported on the obvious fears of the idea of walking while working without as much as conducting any initial research. Claims that employees would fall from the treadmills, sound out of breath on the phone, smell, or interfere with office concentration due to treadmill noise were rampant in the news initially.


Not only the press, but even the medical profession. One of our favorite “experts” followed an interview we conducted on national radio stating that walking all day would be dangerous and that workers should not walk more than an hour at the office or risk foot injuries, or worse. This medical expert was a podiatrist to boot.


By 2011, however, science came to the rescue of common sense. It was proven over and over again that prolonged sitting is as hazardous to health as smoking. It had also been proven for more than a few decades prior that walking is, without a doubt, the single most important form of exercise for health and wellness. Suddenly, the TrekDesk became an overnight sensation with spots on ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, CNN, PBS, and NPR. TrekDesk appeared in television shows such as The Good Wife, Parks & Recreation, Weeds, Silicon Valley, The Today Show, Steve Harvey Show, and others. It was written about in every major newspaper in the country as a unique tool that could help revolutionize health. Forbes Magazine lauded it as “one of the best office luxuries available anywhere”. Suffice to say, the press was in love at that point with the novel idea that walking with a treadmill desk could help change the health landscape in America. At that point in time we didn’t have the manpower to respond to every press request.


By 2014, the press fell relatively silent. Walking at work was no longer a novelty. All innovations rise and fall, the question is whether they will endure. Walking is critical to health. Treadmill desks foster walking. Endurance is assured – but not without a fight, that is evident.


TrekDesk has never made cycle desks or standing desks and for a very good reason. We have worked with some of the most prestigious health and wellness professionals in the world to understand what makes people healthy and what poses potential risks. Cycle desks (while better than sitting) place an individual’s spine in an awkward position and do not place proportionally “ergonomically healthy stresses” on the skeletal frame. Standing desks pose a myriad of problems as well from back pain to varicose veins – with some heart risks thrown in as well.


We knew this before 2009, as did anyone that wanted to research the issue. However, it appears that many in the press (not all mind you) have just discovered that the multitude of standing desks found in offices across America may be doing more harm than good, and at best, are not effective in combating sedentary lifestyles at all.


While we applaud this late to the party epiphany, we cringe that many of the writers have fallen into the research-less abyss once more by lumping the treadmill desk into this new health dog house.


Recent articles raged across the press network, ranging from the New York Times to Newsweek quoting the work of scientists that have reviewed 20 peer reviewed studies and concluded standing desks are ineffective – a waste of employer’s money. By default, a few decided to lump in the prodigal son: the treadmill desk, into the melee.


This too will pass, for one simple reason. Walking is good for you – sitting is bad. Treadmill desks allow slow, ergonomic, upright movement through out the day.


We also don’t totally buy into the concept that a standing desk is ineffective. The study touted this week focused on results from about 2,100 participants and concluded it did not significantly impact their sedentary lifestyles and habits. In our mind a sit-stand desk is better than a regular desk any day of the week. Once an employee is standing, they are more apt to move about; even in small increments. The pain that standing instigates motivates workers to move more – a claim not shared by chair addicts.


So, while the debate continues, we urge readers to keep one thing in mind. One process has been instrumental to our health and survival for eons – walking. Our bet is that is not going away anytime soon, no matter how many mis-read studies emerge.

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