Walking While You Work?

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A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that adults who sat for more than 11 hours a day had a 40% chance of dying within 3 years from any cause, compared to those who sat for less than 4 hours a day. The chances increase by 15% fot those who sat for 8 to 11 hours a day, as compared to those who sat for less than 5.

The American Institute for Cancer Research recently published report about sitters that shows that there is no difference for sitting time between people who go to the gym and those who don't! And if that doesn't shock you, then I'm pretty sure that this one will -- it shows the increase in cancer risk for people who are sedentary all day!

For most busy people working in offices across the U.S., an 8-hour sedentary workday makes the issue of physical activity not a matter of will but a matter of time.

So, what are we to do?

Here's one idea that is becoming popular -- a treadmill desk. I first heard about it on the Twitter feed of one of Food and Health's very own Communicating Food for Health writers, Jill Weisenberger, MS, RD, CDE. Recently, Jill tweeted...

  Jill Weisenberger ?@nutritionjill 23 Aug
This is why I'm not using my treadmill desk. pic.twitter.com/tIcTZLs6iR

If you aren't following Jill on Twitter, then you should! (@nutritionjill)
Anyway, that tweet caught my eye, so I asked her more about it. It turns out that this is how Jill writes her books! I reviewed the health benefits and decided that I had to have a treadmill desk too. Of course, I didn't want to pay full price -- who does? So I did some more research and got a great deal from a local guy selling a treadmill desk on eBay.
There are tons of options for a treadmill that attaches to a desk. You can make your own, or find a deal online. Just Google "treadmill desk." I bet you'll be surprised at how many people are making them and writing about them. The treadmill desks on Amazon.com all have hundreds of great reviews! And Jill has been using hers for 2 years!

All you need to build your own is a desk that's high enough to accommodate reading and typing near eye level while you're walking. You'll also need a treadmill. Generally people don't use their treadmill desks in the same way as they would at the gym. The idea is to move instead of sit, but still get your work done. Most people can read or write while walking at about 1 to 1.5 miles per hour (mph). They can go up to 2 mph when they're doing light reading. Most treadmill desks won't go over 4 mph, so you probably won't want to train for a marathon on one.

So, now I had everything I needed to try out my treadmill desk. But could I do it?

The first day, I found an hour to be easy. The second day, I whizzed through 2 hours while typing and reading -- no problem. I'm really loving my new desk!

The manufacturer says you can do up to 6 hours on the desk in a day. There are accounts of people using them while making phone calls, writing emails or documents, and even editing photos. Software coders use them all day.

The first minute does seem awkward, but that quickly evaporates. I found that I completely forget that I'm on it!

There are other options for high-tech exercise. Alice Henneman, MS, RD, is smitten with her "FitBit," which is a device that tracks your steps and reports wirelessly. You can even have online pools of people to compete against for the most steps taken each day. And the FitBit Flex will work with the desk treadmill. Alice and I are planning a friendly stepping competition!

Of course, the classic tips for physical activity still apply. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that you get a minimum of 2.5 hours per week of aerobic activity, which works out to 30 minutes per day on most days. Kids should get about 60 minutes of aerobic activity per day. But this "walk all day while working" desk treadmill option decreases your sedentary time and makes you feel great too!

Plus, it's so easy, even a dog can do it:

Got more tips? Send a tweet to @foodhealth and we'll send them out to our followers!

Now, if you want to get your work done faster, which will leave you more time for getting active, subscribe to the Communicating Food for Health Newsletter. You can copy and paste all of our articles into emails, blogs, websites, presentations, and more! Plus, you'll get great news updates and brand new handouts each month. Why reinvent the wheel?

For example, check out our new Exercise Exam Room Poster:

You can always find more resources at the Nutrition Education Store!

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