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Are Treadmill Desks Beneficial?

 A Chicago company creates the double treadmill desk so co-workers can colloborate and burn calories at the same time. 

| BY Kent McDill

With new reports that standing at work isn’t all that much better than sitting, there comes a new product that allows co-workers to conduct meetings while working out on treadmills.

Several years ago, some companies allowed workers tied to desks and computers to perform their work to stand rather than sit, and some purchased treadmills for the standers to work off some calories while contemplating spreadsheets all in the name of employee wellness.

Now, a company named InMovement, a subsidiary of Brunswick Co. or Chicago, is prepared to offer the BiStride, which is paired treadmill desks that turn toward each other to allow for work conversations and collaborative projects. The BiStride is an extension of the trend toward walking meetings.

“We found that when you take two treadmill desks and add a surface, plus monitors for people to work on, it actually enables social interaction, plus the walking you would want during a collaborative meeting,’’ said InMovement vice president and general manager Dan Wille. “We also learned there is an optimum angle for them to be positioned. At 25 degrees, just slightly angled, I can have a conversation with you and I can reference material; we can point to stuff while we are walking.”

The concept of the treadmill desk has faced criticism while also receiving praise. Those that like the concept love the chance to work out while making phone calls or competing computer tasks while some say it is impossible to do their job while walking, and that treadmill operation requires attention that pulls them away from their work task.

However, a study two years ago found that treadmill workers increase their productivity while burning a few extra calories.

The cost of the BiStride is expected to be between $8,000-$9,000, which is basically the cost of two treadmill desks.

Promoters of treadmill desks say they require a tryout and some getting accustomed to but that they do increase productivity. They also encourage conversation.

“Moving and being active makes the conversation more energetic,’’ Willie said. “People are more engaged and they are more alert and more creative when they are in those environments.”

Wille and others do explain that treadmill desks are not meant to be employed for eight hours in a day. They are meant for short bursts of energy and caloric burn and to prevent workers from sitting for eight hours a day.

But now standing desks are getting some blowback from health experts who say they do not do much for users from a health benefits standpoint.

A study of more than 5,000 people over 16 years found that the amount of time spent sitting at work had no effect on mortality rate, and that standing reduces those rates minimally if at all. Jogging, on the other hand, does have a positive health effect.

Standing desks are “very much just fashionable and not proven good for your health,’’ said health researcher Dr. Jos Verbeek in an interview with National Public Radio.

About the Author

Kent McDill

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 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.