The energy expenditure of using a “walk-and-work” desk for office workers with obesity

Date: 
05-15-2007

Objective: For many people, most of the working day is spent sitting in front of a computer screen. Approaches for obesity treatment and prevention are being sought to increase workplace physical activity because low levels of physical activity are associated with obesity. Our hypothesis was that a vertical workstation that allows an obese individual to work while walking would be associated with significant and substantial increases in energy expenditure over seated work.

Methods: The vertical workstation is a workstation that allows an office worker to use a standard personal computer while walking on a treadmill at a self-selected velocity. 15 sedentary individuals with obesity (14 women, one man; 43 (7.5) years, 86 (9.6) kg; body mass index 32 (2.6) kg/m2) underwent measurements of energy expenditure at rest, seated working in an office chair, standing and while walking at a self-selected speed using the vertical workstation. Body composition was measured using dual x ray absorptiometry.

Results: The mean (SD) energy expenditure while seated at work in an office chair was 72 (10) kcal/h, whereas the energy expenditure while walking and working at a self-selected velocity of 1.1 (0.4) mph was 191 (29) kcal/h. The mean (SD) increase in energy expenditure for walking-and-working over sitting was 119 (25) kcal/h.

Conclusions: If sitting computer-time were replaced by walking-and-working, energy expenditure could increase by 100 kcal/h. Thus, if obese individuals were to replace time spent sitting at the computer with walking computer time by 2–3 h/day, and if other components of energy balance were constant, a weight loss of 20–30 kg/year could occur.

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Authors: 
James A Levine, Jennifer M Miller