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Wodraska: Mixing work and play now possible

By Lya Wodraska

The Salt Lake Tribune

Published December 19, 2009 5:34 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
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The University of Utah is taking part in a series of studies that both intrigues me and terrifies me at the same time.

The newest revolution in multi-tasking while at work now apparently includes a treadmill desk.

The studies will test the effectiveness of walking slowly while working on a machine known as the TrekDesk.

Studies are going to include a spinal compression analysis comparing office chairs to the compression reduction produced by walking. Of course, the main idea is to just get people moving. According to the press release, the U.S. Surgeon General recommends a minimum of 10,000 steps (5 miles a day) for health maintenance. The average American walks less than a third of that amount. (I wonder how much of that amount is to or from a fast food restaurant?)

Apparently some companies have already bought into these kinds of machines, which can cost between $4,500 and $6,000. The TrekDesk is touted as being a cheaper option because it attaches to an existing treadmill.

Dr. Elizabeth Joy, director of the Utah Health Research Network, is overseeing the project and has experimented with a TrekDesk on herself and said she is burning about 500 calories a day with the treadmill set to go 1 MPH. She barely notices she is walking. What she has found is an improvement in her health.

"The first thing I noticed after working on the TrekDesk was the relief of shoulder and neck pain from working with my computer mouse," she said. "It has been dramatic. My standing posture is so much better than my sitting posture."

The benefits prompted her to pursue the study.

I hope my boss' newspaper landed on his roof this morning so he'll miss this column and won't be tempted to order a bunch of these for us.

I'm all for exercise, but blending work and play? Forget it. The only time I want work and exercise blending is when I'm running away from the office.

Exercise should be about getting away from our stresses and often our occupations are high on the list of causing stress.

Indeed, benefits being promoted along with the desks are that health care costs will decrease and, productivity will increase and the amount of sick days used will decline.

But do we seriously need to worry about meeting a work deadline and keeping pace on a treadmill too?

Perhaps this will be the ideal solution for some and certainly any exercise is better than no exercise.

But me, I have to keep things separate.

Some days, putting one foot in front of the other is challenging enough, and other days, meeting a deadline is a monumental victory.

Lord help me if I ever have to do both at the same time.

lwodraska@sltrib.com" Target="_BLANK">lwodraska@sltrib.com



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