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New study backs cycling, treadmill workstations for better health, productivity


New study backs cycling, treadmill workstations for better health, productivity
Long sitting hours at work place can put people at various health risks like obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes as well as various cancers.

Want to improve health, reduce stress and boost the productivity of your employees? Try active workstations like cycling and treadmill as they also boost physiological changes in the body than sitting or standing workstations, researchers suggest. Long sitting hours at work place can put people at various health risks like obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes as well as various cancers.

The study, led by researchers from the Universite de Montreal in Canada, found that treadmill workstation got people moving and increased upper body muscle activity more than did standing versions, while cycling workstations improved simple processing task speeds the most. But the upper body effort needed to stabilise gait and posture on a treadmill workstation might affect the fine motor skills, such as typing, needed for keyboarding.

Both treadmill and cycling workstations also boosted the heart rate and energy expenditure while prompting a drop in blood pressure during the working day compared with standing workstations, the findings showed. These workstations lowered stress, increased alertness and reduced boredom more than standing versions.

"With workers and the workplace slowly moving towards active workstations, future long-term studies integrating different types of active workstations should be conducted in order to provide additional evidence," said Professor Marie-Eve Mathieu, in the paper published in the Occupational and Environmental Medicine journal. "Ultimately, workers and corporations should be able to critically examine the benefits and limitations of each type of workstation and determine which is most appropriate for the worker's specific needs and tasks," Mathieu added.

To understand the potential impact of active workstations on health and productivity, the team reviewed 12 studies (out of 274 initially selected). They looked at the effect on muscles and physiology -- average heart rate, blood pressure, energy expenditure-perceived exertion and pain tolerance, and cognitive performance at work -- processing speeds, attention and short-term memory.

While all types of workstations were associated with a short-term boost in productivity, cycling and treadmill workstations seemed to be associated with greater short-term physiological changes, the researchers noted.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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