Pedal while you work, say scientists15th February 2011
Scientists in the United States are suggesting that office workers combine a workout on an exercise bike with a desk job.
Writing in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the researchers recommended the use of portable pedal machines in offices around the world to improve the health of workers.
The article said sedentary lifestyles were a serious health problem, to which small exercise bikes could provide a cheap solution.
The research team at East Carolina University are investigating mini exercise bikes, which can be used while sitting at a desk.
Employers' bottom lines would also benefit if their workers were in better health, according to the charity Weight Concern.
Spokesman Ian Campbell said individuals wouldn't be the only ones to benefit from the bikes if they were used regularly.
Employers would see reduced absenteeism and improved performance and job satisfaction, Campbell added.
Many office workers spend many hours sitting a desk staring at a computer screen.
But there are well-documented links between physical inactivity and heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
Previous studies have tried hooking a treadmill to an office computer in a bid to boost the health of office workers.
The East Carolina researched carried out an assessment of how feasible it would be for the bikes to be introduced in the average office.
Study participants said they would use such a machine regularly at work if it were provided by their employer.
The workers in the study each used the machine on 12 out of the 20 days, on average, pedalling for 23 minutes at a time.
The article concluded that portable pedal machines may serve as a tool to reduce sedentary times in the work environment without necessarily influencing the sitting time necessary for performing computer-related tasks.
They said keeping up motivation might be a problem after the novelty of exercise bikes in the office had worn off, however.
Use of the pedal machine in the trial decreased gradually over the one-month trial period, as enthusiasm for the activity waned.
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