Last week I had the pleasure of traveling to beautiful Scottsdale, Arizona, to interview a world-famous physician who practices at the Mayo Clinic.
Many people are unaware of the fact that in addition to Rochester, Minnesota, the Mayo Clinic also has a center in Arizona. Although it was an unseasonably hot July, even for Arizona, with temperatures averaging 115 degrees each day, the scenery was absolutely breathtaking and I can't wait to go back. Although next time I'll try to go in January!
I was delighted to interview Dr. James Levine, the inventor of the wildly successful treadmill desk. Fifteen years ago, Dr. Levine was researching the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
What he and his team discovered is that sitting for prolonged periods of time is utterly catastrophic for our health. Even if we exercise, let's say, an hour a day (which let's face it, not many people do) if we then sit for hours at a time, we are literally destroying our health.
The science is overwhelming. Sitting for a long time leads to obesity and a whole host of other health hazards. This comes as no surprise to most of us, especially those of us who have desk jobs, because it's simply unnatural to live on our bottoms. God did not make us this way. We were designed to move around.
That's when Dr. Levine got the brilliant idea for a treadmill desk. He started out with a garage sale model and simply put a few books on it with duct tape to fashion a makeshift platform for his computer.
It worked like a charm. The idea is to walk at a very slow pace, such as 1.3 miles per hour, so you don't work up a sweat, so you aren't out of breath for phone calls, and so you can easily type or read.
The cool thing is, even at that slow pace, you can end up walking about 30 miles a week! Even better is the fact that you don't have to go to the gym after work because you have already gotten an adequate amount of exercise while you worked! Gotta love that multi-tasking!
Dr. Levine consulted with a company that makes fancy treadmill desks that cost over $1,000. They have all the bells and whistles and well worth the money if you can afford it. However, if that's not in your budget, there are other treadmill desks selling for about $500.
Then again, you can just make your own with a regular ol' treadmill and any type of desk you can make yourself to fit over the treadmill.
While I was interviewing some people who use treadmill desks, I was surprised to notice that, not only could they still concentrate on their work while walking, they all said their focus is IMPROVED! How could that be? Yes, they said they had better clarity than they did sitting.
I asked Dr. Levine about that, and he said it's a scientific fact. When we sit down, our mind becomes lazy, just like our body.
This is especially true during the low circadian rhythm hours in the early afternoon. When we are moving, those mental lulls, those energy lows, are mitigated because of the increased oxygen pumping through our bodies and into our brains which comes from exercise. Fascinating!
Sadly, some of us are not able to have treadmill desks right now. I, for one, work in a beautiful news room that is also part of our news set. That means our work space is on national television every day. So we have to keep the place looking spiffy, and treadmill desks simply do not fit the décor. Alas.
The good news, however, is the next best thing to a treadmill desk is a STANDING DESK. Just like the treadmill desk, you can buy a fancy expensive one, and I saw them. Those babies are nice. They have little buttons that raise and lower the desk to whatever height you wish, with just the flip of a switch.
Then again, for those with a more modest budget you can just easily make your own.
I asked Dr. Levine if standing was all that much better than sitting and he said ABSOLUTELY! He said he was surprised at that himself but the science proved its truth.
Studies show that when people are standing at their desks, they actually do move. Upon close examination, people don't usually stand still. They are constantly in motion, shifting from side to side, etc. While you're up, you're more likely to walk somewhere, such as to get a drink, talk to a co-worker, and so on.
So stand-up desks are a vast improvement over sitting.
One of my co-workers remarked that she has more mental clarity and energy now that she uses a standing desk. She also noted the psychological effect of standing while working.
She said, "It makes me feel so powerful and in control!" Yes, that makes sense! You go, girl!
So get off that rear end! Walk while you work, or at least stand while you work...for better health, improved mental clarity, and more confidence! What's not to like?