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'TrekDesk' promotes healthier workplace

By News Department
On November 11, 2009

As UConn students graduate and enter the work force, the last thing on their minds might be how much exercise they can get at work. But given rising health problems, a sedentary work force might be a bigger concern than thought.

And while some companies have been building gyms in their buildings for employee use, another company-TrekDesk- believes that it holds the answer: treadmill desks.

TrekDesk is a desk designed to be used compatibly with a treadmill so that employees can walk at a leisurely pace while working.

"The major thing people are walking for is to increase caloric consumption and battle obesity," said UConn professor of kinesiology William J. Kraemer.

The U.S. surgeon general suggests walking 10,000 steps per day, and TrekDesk says that this goal can be achieved in as little as 2-3 hours on a TrekDesk.

TrekDesk's Web site says that employees rotated in two-hour shifts on a TrekDesk are likely to notice the health benefits.

TrekDesk also says that by using their product employees will lose weight, restore health, prevent disease and improve mood and productivity. But these assertions leave some skeptical.

"Low intensity exercise doesn't cover the whole spectrum of exercise, it doesn't do anything for strength training or maximum oxygen consumption ... in some ways [a treadmill desk] defeats the stress reduction of exercise because exercise is frequently used to get escape from work at the end of the day," Kraemer said.

Questions have been raised about treadmill desks distracting employees from their work.

"I haven't seen any scientific study on the issue of concentration while you exercise," said Kraemer. "If you can work and burn calories great, but some can't do it."

Students agreed with Kraemer. "If you're just sitting at a desk and not really thinking about things, then it's a good idea but if it takes away from your concentration then it's not worth it," said Katie Bem, a 3rd-semester French and communcations major.

Costs of treadmills are an issue in a slumping economy. TrekDesk is competitively priced at $479-much less than some of its competitors, which cost from $4,500 to $6,500.

Despite the obvious cost benefit of TrekDesk, it has one very noticeable drawback: it does not include a treadmill. TrekDesk is in fact a desk designed to fit around a treadmill. The actual treadmill can range in cost from $120 to just under $10,000.

But in an America where obesity is a major problem the TrekDesk, despite its shortcomings, may be a step in the right direction.

The TrekDesk Company could not be reached for comment.

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