Treadmill desks in the workplace offers limited health benefits to office workers, but can also pose logistical challenges that may not make such a program feasible for companies, revealed a study by Oregon State University.
The 12-week study found that treadmill desks can help overweight or obese office workers get out of their chairs and get moving, but the increase in physical activity was small and did not help workers meet public health guidelines for daily exercise. 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 (BMI) after 12 weeks.
Researcher John M. Schuna said, "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. 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. 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. 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 researchers need to identify some form of physical activity that can be done simply and at a low cost in an office setting."
The study appears in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.