Pedaling on the job could keep pounds at bay

By Shayna Brouker • Published: May 23rd, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Too much sedentary sitting, believe it or not, can really take a toll on the body. Recent studies have found that even exercising after eight hours of being chained to a desk isn’t enough to reduce the dramatically increased risk of not just weight gain, but death caused by sitting all day.

Recent studies have found that spending four or more hours a day sitting at a desk can increase your risk of death from any cause by forty-eight percent and your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by one hundred twenty-five percent. But what if you could work out while you work?

Scientists discovered a little pedaling on the job, even while sitting, could combat some of the dangerous effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

Researchers at East Carolina University gave eighteen full-time workers a pedaling exercise machine designed for desks and let them pedal away for four weeks. The workers were mostly female and overweight, with an average age of forty.

The subjects used the bionic bikes an average of twelve out of a possible twenty working days, for an average of twenty-three minutes a day. They biked a up to thirteen miles per day, burned up to five hundred calories and maintained a normal level of productivity — all in a day’s work.

At the end of the study, almost all participants said they would use the bikes regularly if made available. The bikes cost just $129, plus $49 for the software to track progress, compared with the treadmill desk, which costs at least $1,000.

If your employer isn’t sold on the idea yet, there are other ways to combat the negative effects of a sedentary work day. Experts recommend taking a five-minute break every hour to get up and walk around, standing while talking on the phone or even using your lunch break to walk a few laps around the building. The more movement, the better.