Are Active Workstations The Next Big Thing In Fitness?

by Yoshita Sengupta

If you've been dealing with back and neck pain, stomach issues, cramps, and a lower metabolism, chances are you're one of the millions of office workers who spend long hours through the day, hunched over on a chair.

Given that most of America's workforce has an adundance of stationary jobs, obesity is becoming a major concern. This problem has prompted a growing number of companies to invest in active workstations like the treadmill desk, under desk ellipticals, and desk cycles. 

Have you heard of active workstations? They are nothing but treadmills, bikes, and elliptical trainers outfitted in a way that allows employees to get some mild activity while still working. “Many have already adopted such a working environment and this is doing wonders for the health of professionals,” says Dr Muhammad M Hanif, MD at iCliniq.com.

Sitting Is Making You Sick (No, Really)
Sitting for long periods of time is now being considered a major risk factor for everything from diabetes to an increase in cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure are being traced back to sitting for long hours. If you have an active workstation, you are pushing your cardio to over 50 percent of your maximum heart rate, plucking you out from the dangerous sedentary category. Also, the benefits of such workstations are that they are easily adjustable and can help improve your posture and regulate blood flow, while also eliminating back and leg pain.

Experts Give Their Seal Of Approval

  • “Treadmills and other cardio equipment inside offices will help boost the fitness levels of those who are currently inactive. Even a little more physical activity than before is a good start,” says Jason Adams, a trainer at Beyond Exercise in Cincinnati.
  • Studies have found that participants report lower levels of boredom and feel more active, thus having a positive impact on their work efficiency. 
  • Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine found that the introduction of sit-stand workstations reduced lower back pain because of the ‘postural variation’ they afforded through the day.
Dr Hanif believes that these active workstations are going to be the next level in fitness strategy. And, this can be done in many ways, not just by changing the workstations. He says, “The absence of chairs in offices, 'standing meetings’ (if they are short enough), and pulling the plug on phone extensions to prompt people to physically go to someone's cubicle/cabin for communication will help." 

Consider This: “The average American drives into work and is seated for about eight hours while at the office, and his level of activity is restricted to just walking to and from the garage, or the restroom; that's a very big red flag” says Dr Albert Takem, Medical Director of Dr Takem’s Weight Loss & Wellness.


It Needs To Be Done Right To Be Effective
While Adams believes that these desks can help employees, he adds that for those who already workout, they do very little. “The positive is that the workstations can help keep them active between workouts and increase their metabolism and blood flow.” But this won't lead to a significant calorie burn during office hours.

Dr Taken adds, “Active workstations need to be fast enough to challenge the users' heart rate. Otherwise, they will only reap very nominal increases in fitness levels,” he says.

Also, it takes time for employees to get used to them before they can type and walk, or cycle at the same time. The under desk elliptical proves to be easier to adapt to, as it can be done mindlessly. 

In the end, while they cannot susbsititute actual exercise, active workstations are certainly a move in the right direction for millenials who may be trading their good health for the comfort of a car, air-con cubicle, online shopping, and other little luxuries that have severly restricted activity to dangerous levels in the new-age.

Image Courtesy: TrekDesk Treadmill Desk/Facebook

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