Treadmill Workstations

ErgonomicsErgonomicsErgonomics June 17, 2011

Recently, the idea of Treadmill Desks/Workstations has become a hot topic!

Most people spend a significant amount of time at static workstations. With limited time for exercise, the idea of “MULTI-TASKING” by exercising while we work seems a logical response.

For over 30 years our instructors at the Back School of Atlanta have advocated increasing physical activity/fitness through “Work-N-Stretch” programs and ERGO Breaks in the office and industrial worksites.

However, the safety concerns for the individual that is walking on a treadmill while typing or performing other work tasks, concerns me. Personally, I have fallen off a treadmill at my own gym and have witnessed others doing the same thing. The possibility of serious injury that could result from a fall, the legal/liability point, and the decreased focus of the individual would make me uneasy. Suppose someone walks up behind you unnoticed or the phone rings. Would you forget about being on a moving object and fall off breaking an arm, leg or worse?

As an employer and also a consultant in industry I would NOT recommend that companies place treadmill workstations in their workplaces.

My suggestions would be to provide workers with sit-to-stand work stations. In this type of workstation you provide an adjustable height workstation or keyboard tray and a comfortable task chair or stool. This set up allows for the worker to choose how much of their work day is spent sitting and how much time is spent standing. It is safer, less expensive and can be used to accommodate the diversity of the sizes, shapes and ages of the workers in our workforce today. Since our energy levels fluctuate on a day to day basis this option gives more opportunities for variety. Also, always provide awareness training and incentives for employees to get more physical activity both on and off the job.

An excellent reference on ideas to increase fitness and lose weight for office workers is the book, Could You Stand to Lose by Mark E. Benden, Ph.D, CPE.

Yes, we do need to encourage more movement and physical activity of ALL of our population to increase physical fitness. However, I believe that the potential concerns of working on a moving object like a treadmill outweigh the benefits.

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