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Sweaty e-mails in your future? Try the treadmill workstation

By Layer 8 on Tue, 05/15/07 - 2:23pm.

Did you know you could lose as much as 66 pounds by sweating on you PC? Well using the Mayo Clinic's vertical workstation, that just might be the weightloss wave of the future.

The vertical workstation is basically a desk mounted over a treadmill that lets office workers kill two birds with one stone - send emails, check invoices and write reports and burn calories at the same time, say Professors James Levine and Jennifer Miller of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, who came up with the machine/desk.

A study conducted at the Mayo Clinic and published in the British Journal of Sports medicine found the average obese person burned 100 calories an hour while walking about one mile an hour while working. The treadmill desks cost about $1,600. The desk isn't exactly a new idea. The Mayo Clinic has been working on such a prototype as part of its Office of the Future research.

In fact in a Network World article from 2005 Levine said that instead of sitting on conventional desk chairs, workers in the Mayo Clinic's prototype environment stand at their desks with a moving treadmill surface underfoot. A two-lane walking track surrounds the workstations and serves as an aerobic substitute for a conference room. Levine and his colleagues in the Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) lab at Mayo Clinic came up with the idea and built the prototype environment in their own office space.

Ten acrylic standing computer desks, complete with variable-speed treadmills, have replaced traditional desks. Employees wear mobile phones on their belts, along with a device that measures how much time they spend standing and sitting. "The idea is to introduce an environment that will encourage activity in the workplace. Just as it's hard to be a couch potato without a couch, it's hard to sit all day at work without a chair or a conventional desk or cubicle," said Levine.

There are other things you can try as well. For example, the FPGamerunner, a USB full-size treadmill that works with any first-person shooter (FPS) game, has you covered. Walking on the treadmill moves your character through the game. Handlebars and buttons at the front of the $1,299 treadmill control your direction and fire your weapons. "The longer you play on the GameRunner, the longer you walk and that keeps your heart rate up. Gaming doesn't have to be unhealthy!," the FPGamerunner site proclaims.