Work-walking for Health and Productivity

If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you know that this “Out-of-the-Box Thinking” series was originated to share unique modern day examples of people and/or organizations that have demonstrated their willingness to venture beyond conventional thinking.

In so many of our creative-thinking seminars and keynote presentations, the following concern has emerged at one point or another: “This subject is a lot of fun, interesting, and educational; however, it’s difficult to actually apply in the workplace.”

That’s fear, doubt, or lack of confidence speaking. I say that because I find examples every week in my travels that prove creative thinking is alive and well from coast to coast—today more so than ever before as continuous workplace challenges demand creative responses.

Here’s an example I’m surprised hasn’t surfaced long before now. By the way, I’m not talking about futuristic possibilities … I’m talking about present day realities. This example emerges as a result of time pressures, health concerns and even proven statistics reflecting increased productivity.

Want to lose up to 57 lbs. in one year?

Can’t find enough time to get to the gym?

Spend lots of time in front of a computer?

Then you’ll want to learn more about the office treadmill. Yes, I know those two words sound contradictory, and it’s a challenge to envision the two in the same image, but it’s a fact … and a rapidly growing trend.

Dr. James Levine, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic, conducted a study revealing that people can burn 350 calories a day by doing things like fidgeting, pacing or simply walking to the computer from their desk.

As a result of his study, Dr. Levine constructed a treadmill desk by simply sliding a bedside hospital tray over a $400 treadmill. That is “out-of-the-box thinking.” Can you imagine the thoughts and comments of those viewing his efforts for the first time? You can pretty much bet there was laughter and/or ridicule involved at one point.

However, the Mayo Clinic research acknowledged that, without breaking a sweat, the so-called “work-walker” can burn an estimated 100 to 130 calories an hour at speeds slower than two miles an hour.

Today, choices range from homemade monstrosities to a sleek $4,000 all-in-one treadmill desk which comes in your choice of 36 laminate finishes with an ergonomically curved desktop from Details (a Division of Steelcase). Its quiet motor is designed for slow speeds.

Work-walking may very well inch itself into the mainstream as dozens of businesses have already invested in the equipment to let their employees walk and, ideally, lose a little weight, at work. Hundreds of these workstations have been sold from coast-to-coast to organizations including Humana, Mutual of Omaha, GlaxoSmithKline, and Best Buy.

Some employees feel this whole ideal is a bit freaky, and others simply can’t seem to walk and work at the same time. While it may sound like a recipe for distraction, devotees say the treadmill desks increase not only their activity but also their concentration. Several call-centers have discovered an increase in productivity, while reducing employees cholesterol, weight, and blood-sugar levels.

Want more information about this unique concept? Go to to view a short video of Dr. Levine explaining the advantages and research data on the Treadmill Desk. He believes that if individuals were to replace eight hours a day of sitting at their “normal” desk with a Treadmill Desk, and if other components of energy balance were constant, a weight loss of 57 lbs. a year could occur!

Current plans range from “The $49 Treadmill Desk” ( to commercial offerings near the $6,500 price tag.

You know this is a growing trend when you discover that there are more than a dozen work-walking blogs on the Internet already (for example: and and to name a few). There is even a blossoming social network ( available for those interested.

What appears to be “freaky” to some appears to be a Treadmill Desk revolution to others. This bizarre trend may join the ranks of the hula hoop, roller blades, and the convertible … once an oddity, later a staple. Creativity is alive and well.

About Harry K. Jones

Harry K. Jones is a motivational speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a company of professional speakers who provide custom-designed seminars, keynote presentations, and consulting services. Harry's top requested topics include change management, customer service, creativity, employee retention, goal setting, leadership, stress management, teamwork, and time management. For more information on Harry's presentations, please call 800-886-2629 or fill out our contact form.

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