Forget biking to work, just bike while working. According to a new study, desks with pedals are the key to keeping employees healthier and more productive, providing considerable benefits to both the individual and the company at large. As per research from a team at the University of Iowa, placing a portable pedaling device under people’s desks allows them to combat the otherwise sedentary lifestyle that often beleaguers office life. With this simple addition, workers are able to move around without ever leaving their desks, making them more efficient, but also providing them with some sort of exercise.
The scientists, whose findings were published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, determined that side effects of keeping pedals handy for regular use included “weight loss, improved concentration at work, and fewer sick days as compared to their co-workers who pedaled less.” And considering the risks that are often associated with sitting for too many hours across too many days (think heart disease, obesity, cancer, and even mental health problems like depression), allowing workers to keep their bodies relatively active alongside their minds seems like a no-brainer for companies looking to maximize work output while simultaneously caring for the well-being of their employees.
Of course, not just any pedal desk will do — as Lucas Carr, the study’s co-author noted, “We wanted to see if workers would use these devices over a long period of time, and we found the design of the device is critically important.” After all, just putting a biking machine under someone’s work station won’t do anything — they would have to be utilized often and regularly to see any advantages manifest. The key, Carr said, is finding a pedal that is meant for individual use (no sharing bikes, please), and also both comfortable and easy.
Ultimately, Carr concluded, despite the obvious benefits of having one of these contraptions readily available, it’s not always the most feasible solution for everyone. “It’s a great idea in theory, but it doesn’t work over the long haul for most people,” he said. So in the intervening time, just be sure to get up and walk around every once in awhile to break up the monotony of your day.