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Do Treadmill Desks Improve Productivity?

The September 2015 issue of the Berkeley Wellness Newsletter reviewed a recent study from Brigham Young University where researchers randomly assigned 75 people to work at a computer while either sitting in a chair or walking slowly on a treadmill and then had them perform a series of tests that required both motor skills (typing words that flashed on a computer screen and mental skills (remembering words and adding numbers).


Impairment On Certain Tasks

Researchers found that the treadmill group typed more slowly and made more mistakes, probably do to the repetitive movement of the treadmill.  Surprisingly, even though performance generally remained in the average range, the treadmill group did worse on cognitive tasks including declines in attention, learning, processing speed and some memory functions.

Shortfalls In This Study

Only young people were used in this study so it is unknown if these findings would apply to older people.  It is also possible that over time performance would improve with practise.

What to Do?

If you have a treadmill desk be aware that it may be easier to do tasks such as talking on the phone or reviewing papers while on the treadmill.  When typing is required or more intense concentration is needed, standing still or using a sitting desk may be more useful (but remember to get up a minimum of once per hour).  Also, consider that many people stop using their treadmill desks not unlike home exercise equipment after a short period of time.



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