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WMU: More people working out at work | Business

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WMU: More people working out at work
WMU: More people working out at work

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (Western Michigan University & WZZM)-- More Americans are standing, walking and even cycling through their workdays thanks to new office equipment that lets them stay active.

The new workstations include standing desks with treadmills, physio balls instead of chairs and cycling equipment that fits under the desk, says Dr. Timothy Michael, a WMU professor of human performance and health education.

"There are lots of suggestions of ways we can increase our physical activity," Michael says. "A lot of jobs, where you're sitting at a desk all day in front of your computer, we know that that encourages bad behaviors in general. We also know that sitting all day long is starting to become a risk factor for heart disease. It's really getting close to where cigarette smoking is. So there's an emphasis or push on increasing physical activity during the work day."

The trend can be traced back to a physician at the Mayo Clinic and studies he did on people who fidget at their otherwise sedentary jobs, Michael says.

"He noticed that those individuals, even though it's not a lot of movement, were still expending calories during the day and that added up over the course of a week and translated into some weight loss," Michael says. "He jumped from that idea to thinking, if you can do just a little bit of physical activity in the course of the day, over the course of a week, a month or a year that adds up to quite a few calories exhausted."

Though they may be exercising lightly at work, people still need vigorous, planned exercise programs, Michael warns.

"We still encourage people to put exercise into their daily routines," Michael says. "Physical activity is all kinds of movement. Exercise is more of a planned behavior. So you make time out of your day to consciously exercise. Doing the treadmill desk and a little bit of walking for five or 10 minutes at the beginning of every hour is helpful, but it's not going to give you what an exercise program will give you."

Steelcase is one of several businesses that offer active office workstations.  The company‚Äôs Walkstation integrates a slow speed treadmill with a desk.