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Stationary work is stressful on our bodies and now a new concept in healthy workstations has emerged.

The walkstation is a treadmill based workstation, with a height adjustable full desk top, and computer connectivity.

Here are three reasons it might work for you:

  1. A case study shows walking changed body composition of participants who “lost fat weight while maintaining and even increasing their percentage of lean tissue”
  2. Movement improves brain function, mental abilities, performance speed, ease of learning, detail recollection and reduced levels of anxiety and depression.
  3. By making healthier choices at work, you’ll make healthier choices everywhere in life. The walkstation is definitely a STEP in the right direction!

Check out the full article with references below.

The office workplace is changing.  We are more and more dependent on computers, connectivity and technology.  And the challenge to be active, healthy and happy is ever growing.  It has long been recognized that stationary and sedentary office work has its risks.  We know that our time should be broken up throughout the workday with periods of standing, walking or general moving to help to alleviate the stresses of stationary work.

General ergonomic design of the workstation can help in this regard, by organizing to promote movement.  Further, Sit/Stand workstations are a stepping stone toward transforming the stationary workstation into one that is more flexible.  When used correctly, they promote changing postures and limit time spent performing stationary work.  Unfortunately, the limitations of being connected and available (i.e. on a phone, in constant meetings, etc.) may not allow participation in gross motor tasks that can increase heart rate and blood flow to help recover and relieve the postural muscles that are under constant demand.

Enter: the Walkstation, a further step in the evolution of the office work space.  Manufacturers of a treadmill based workstation, with a height adjustable full desk top, and computer connectivity promote the walkstations as a “product (that) encourages employees to consider alternative healthy postures and choices leading to a healthier workforce and control of healthcare expenditures for the company and employees” (Walkstation Quick Overview, Details/Steelcase, 2011).  They base this statement on a study that shows increased metabolic rate to “interrupt or reverse weight gain which is a known lead to many other health challenges” (Nonexercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT):environment and biology; Science. January, 2005).

Further affirmation of the benefits of using a walkstation is a case study that shows that walking changed body composition of participants who “lost fat weight while maintaining and even increasing their percentage of lean tissue” (Work Site Intervention With Active Workstations: Effects On Metabolic Fitness Variables At First Follow-Up.  Authors Ronald H. Cox, Christina Ohlinger, Amanda Zylstra, Miami University).  A change in body composition toward more lean muscle tissue can lead to an increased base metabolic rate, which means that more energy is used during rest, and is a sign of better health and promotes further fat loss.

Additionally, from a performance and worker satisfaction standpoint, “movement improves brain function, mental abilities, performance speed, ease of learning, detail recollection and reduced levels of anxiety and depression (Brain Builders! A Lifelong Guide to Sharper Thinking, Better Memory, and an Age-Proof Mind: Exercise to Process Information More Efficiently, p. 253.  Richard Leviton, 1995).

Much like an exercise program, the use of the walkstation should go through a progressive ramp-up schedule, with a manufacturer’s suggestion of starting with (15) minutes per hour and increasing to (30) minutes per hour over the course of several weeks.  Further user recommendations are to warm up and stretch, as well as use a comfortable pace of walking, in the range of 1MPH (Walkstation User Instructions, pg.6.  Details/Steelcase, 2011).

Further user tips include wearing comfortable shoes, using a headset for phone use, adjusting the work height of the desktop for individual comfort, and maintaining an upright walking posture throughout.  A computer monitor should be placed at eye level and close enough for the worker to read the screen comfortably (Walkstation Ergonomic Tips.  Details/Steelcase, 2011).

Understanding the importance of recommendations, such as a ramp-up program and comfortable shoes, and enforcing them is key to a successful program. Establishing company polices and guidelines for the walkstation will ensure employees adhere to these recommendations, while also recognizing the positive benefits of the walkstation.

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