Portable exercise bike which can be used while working at desks could curb the harmful effects of office-related chair disease, suggests
a study published by British Journal of Sports Medicine.
The researchers base their findings on 18 full time
employees who were given a pedal exercise machine for four weeks, specifically
designed to be used while seated at a desk in the workplace.
The mini exercise bike comprised a set of pedals that can be
set up in front of most standard office chairs for use while seated, and which
makes very little noise. Several such devices are now commercially available,
say the authors.
The average age of the participants was 40. Most were female
and overweight. All had sedentary jobs, which involved spending at least 75% of
the working day sitting at a desk or workstation.
The volunteers were wired up to an exercise tracking device
via their computers, which monitored their activity and provided real time
feedback on pedal speed, distance covered, and how many calories they burned.
On average, they used the pedal machines on 12 out of a
possible 20 working days, ranging from 2 days to 20, and for an average of 23
minutes each of those days, ranging from 1 to 73 minutes.
Distance covered per day ranged from a third of a mile to
almost 13.5 miles, with 9 to more than 500 calories burned in the process.
At the end of the four weeks, all participants completed a
questionnaire about the feasibility of introducing a similar machine into the
The volunteers said they found the machine easy to use and
an alternative to exercise during bad weather.
They overwhelmingly said they would use such a machine
regularly at work if offered one by their employer and said that it had not
affected either their productivity or the quality of their work.
The results showed that the novelty of the device seemed to
wear off over time, but the authors say this is not surprising in a group of
predominantly sedentary people who were not part of any behavioural
But participants did maintain the level and intensity of
activity over the four weeks, and just 23 minutes of pedalling could boost
health if done regularly, the authors say.
As the machine is relatively inexpensive, and seems
acceptable to employees, if combined with evidence based behavioural
approaches, it offers the potential to be used in large scale workplace health
programmes, they conclude.