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Exercising While Working at Your Desk

Children in one North Carolina school are being allowed to ride a stationary bike while riding in class.

| BY Kent McDill

“There has got to be a way for me to make better use of my time sitting in front of this computer screen,’’ says many Americans who find themselves metaphorically chained to a desk all day long.

It turns out, there are things that can be done to make eight hours of sitting into a physically beneficial time. But it may require an office re-fit.

There is a revolution in stationary exercise bicycles going on, and many of these bicycles are built into desks, with a flat surface for working or holding a computer monitor on top and bicycle pedals underneath. The idea is that you can work at your monitor while exercising as much as a stationary sitting bicycle allows you to do so.

The WeBike, in fact, adds yet another component: it charges your phone through the power produced by your cycling. WeBike, developed by a company named Fast Company, is currently installed in the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, and the model used there allows three people to sit, work and cycle all at the same desk.

“People don’t believe they can do two things at the same time,’’ said developer Katarina Verhaegen in an interview with National Public Radio. “But there are studies proving that gentle exercise while doing computer work, you are more focused and more creative. Reading and memorizing speed is enhanced.”

The WeBike is also currently being used at railway stations in France, and the company is creating an office model as opposed to the multi-use ones on display in public places in Europe.

A much, much smaller, and much less intrusive device developed by a University of Chicago student is called the Cubii, which is a small, simple pedal machine that runs on a rubberized belt. It sits where your feet would sit under a desk, and you can pedal while you, well, do whatever you are supposed to do at your desk.

“The motion becomes unconscious,’’ said developer Arnav Dalmia.

There are also many forms of treadmill desks that require the user to stand while working. The desk sits in the general area of where a normal treadmill’s controls are, and the user can work while walking on the treadmill. This, like the WeBike, is an expensive form of working out while working, as the treadmill desks like the WalkStation are not inexpensive.

The same concept of working out while working is being applied to learning as well. At the Ward Elementary School in Winston-Salem, N.C., are allowed to ride stationary bikes during reading time. The school has studied reading proficiency for students based on the amount of time they use the bikes while reading, and those who bike and read scored much higher than students who did not.

“Riding exercise bikes makes reading fun for many kids who get frustrated when they read,’’ said Scott Ertl, who started the program at Ward School. “They have a way to release that frustration they feel when they ride.”

Biking may not be necessary to burn calories while at work or at school.  Several schools in Texas have replaced their students’ desks used while sitting with taller desks used while standing, and a Texas A&M study shows that not only do students burn 15 percent more calories standing than sitting during the day (they do have stools available if they get tired), concentration increased among students who were at a standing desk.

“If this environmental change improves both health and academic outcomes, this should serve as an incentive for schools to invest in altering their standard for classroom furniture to stand-biased modifications,” The Texas A&M research concluded.



About the Author


Kent McDill

kmcdill@spectrem.com

Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.

In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.

McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.

McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy  Buffett and all things Disney.