Office Based Exercise - Increase Productivity & Reduce Health Care Costs

If you can't get to the beach to walk or run, here's some ideas for exercising from the office!  Naples Beach - March 18, 2022. Photo Courtesy of Charly Caldwell II.

It’s never ending...

Clients are referred to exercise physiologists because they either have several risk factors predisposing them to chronic disease and/or conditions (i.e. high blood pressure, high cholesterol), or they have developed a chronic disease and/or condition and their health care provider wants exercise to be a component of their treatment.

Simple, or at least you’d think so right?

Many of these referred patients have very busy lives: work and family (kids and often grandchildren too), so a big part of successful planning is to find ‘potential exercise/physical activity’ time in their day, which is often no easy task.

If the average person sleeps 7.5 hours per night, that leaves potentially 16.5 hours, to complete 30 minutes of exercise (minimum recommended daily amount by the American College of Sports Medicine).

So technically, we’re asking for a mere 3% commitment of their awake time to be focused on physical activity, not a big ask by any means.

However, when you consider a typical day, up at 6am, get the kids ready for school, off to work, then home to shuttle the kids to music lessons, gymnastics, after school tutoring, all of which require a high degree of chauffeur work (aka sedentary time).

Then it’s home for dinner, school work with the kids, bath time, and suddenly that 30 mins exercise time I’m requesting of them is looking like a big ask.

However, there is one time during most people’s weekdays when, if all else fails, they can complete some exercise, and that is at work...

Enter the concept of office-based exercise.

Office based exercise is not a new idea, in fact, cycling and treadmill desks have been around for decades.

In the Journal of Applied Ergonomics, researcher found that even low intensity cycling while pedaling significantly increased caloric expenditure.

Additionally, the International Journal of Obesity concluded that not only did work place exercise stations increase metabolic cost (burn more calories), but also that workers were more productive and long term results showed a decrease in absentee days and health care costs.  

If a person were to use a treadmill desk for just 30 minutes/day, each working day, they would burn roughly 460 calories per week, which would equate to over 22,000 calories per year.

1 pound of fat equals approximately 3,500 calories, then a person could potentially lose 6.2 pounds of fat a year.  

The BEST news is that these stations will not break the bank. I price checked on google and found several bike desks ranging in price from $100 to $400.

Treadmill desks that include the actual treadmill are understandably more expensive at up to $1,200.

However, when you consider the cumulative effect of a small daily change in energy expenditure at work over a yearly period, these devices can have a significant impact.

Given the poor health outcomes associated with sedentary behavior and sitting time, how can you afford NOT to exercise?

Angie Ferguson is an exercise physiologist and Tony Robbins Results Coach from Fort Myers, Florida. She also is a Corrective Biomechanics Specialist, USA Triathlon Advanced Level 2 coach, USA Cycling coach, has a Specialty in Sports Nutrition certification, and a PhD in results!


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