Researchers from the University of Iowa in the US have come up with a simple but potentially effective way to increase physical activity among office workers who spend most of their day seated behind desks — put a pedaling device under each desk.
The results of study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found office employees who were provided with a personal pedaling device increased their physical activity, and most reaped some health benefits.
Previous research has shown sedentary behavior can raise the risk of numerous health conditions, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Office workers are one group at particularly high risk for sedentary-related health problems. Earlier this year, a survey of office workers conducted by the British Health Foundation found almost half of women and nearly 40 percent of men spend less than 30 minutes walking around at work.
It is recommended that adults get at least 2.5 hours of physical activity each week, but less than half do. Individuals who engage in physical activity tend to live longer and have reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, depression, type-2 diabetes and cancer.
For 16 weeks, researchers provided 27 overweight or obese office workers in Iowa City with their ActiveLife Trainer pedal device, which was placed under the desks of the office workers. The researchers analyzed the pedal time of each employee via a monitor attached to the device. On average, employees pedaled 50 minutes each day over the 16-week study period.
The researchers found that even employees who engaged in no physical activity during their workday prior to the study engaged in light-intensity physical activity following introduction of the pedal device. High use of the pedal device led to weight loss, better concentration and fewer sick days.