Long Term Benefits of Using Treadmill Desk in Your Office

6923140300_a8b7d7b1e3_zThanks to new research, we now know that using a treadmill desk may actually have a positive effect on a worker’s productivity, once the person gets accustomed to it.

During a yearlong study involving employees in the field of finance in Minnesota, researchers discovered that workers consistently experienced a drop in productivity initially as they grew used to doing their work while moving at no more than two miles an hour on the treadmill.

However, once 16 to 24 weeks had passed, all aspects of productivity had risen considerably, from the quality of their work to their personal relationships with other workers. This was measured through surveys of the workers.

By the tail end of the study, the employees found that their work performance had increased by an average of 6.9%, and their managers felt that these same workers had increased productivity by an average of 10%. All of this was measured using surveys that rated the work performance on a scale of 1 to 10, with supervisors rating both those who did not use treadmills and those who did.

For tasks like solving problems or taking conference calls, “a little bit of walking is useful because it means there’s more blood flow to the brain,” said Avner Ben-Ner, a professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management and an author of the study, which was published last month in the online journal PLOS ONE. “You get more oxygen and it increases the ability to think.”

Recently, treadmill desks have become something of a curiosity thanks to people’s concerns about how an inactive lifestyle can take a toll on human health, particularly on those who have sedentary jobs. However, there is very little scientific proof that treadmills are an effective solution to this problem. Another issue that was discovered during a study was the fact that treadmills appear to interfere with a person’s motor skills and can result in increased difficulty using a keyboard and mouse.

Other downsides (according to The Wall Street Journal) include the possibility of injury from misstepping or falling off the treadmill, and even the possibility of electric shocks from the static electricity that some treadmills can build up over time.

Researchers assert that users of treadmill desks should take it easy at first and give themselves a period of time to get used to the new set up and to find the correct, most comfortable position for their keyboard and computer screen. In the recent study that found a long-term increase in productivity, users were not given any sort of instruction on how to use the treadmill desk correctly, and researchers suggest that employers should provide individualized training for best results.

“This wouldn’t be very good for people who thread a needle for their jobs,” he said. “But everyone who does brain work knows that if you’re stumped or need fresh ideas, take a walk.”

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