“Even walking at 1 mile an hour has very substantial benefits,” Levine said, such as doubling metabolic rate and improving blood sugar levels. “Although you don’t sweat, your body moving is sort of purring along.”
Sales at Indianapolis-based TreadDesk are expected to increase 25 percent this year as large corporations, including Microsoft, Coca Cola, United Healthcare and Procter & Gamble have started buying the workstations in bulk, said Jerry Carr, the company’s president.
At LifeSpan Fitness, based in Salt Lake City, sales of treadmill desks more than tripled over 2012, said Peter Schenk, company president.
“We don’t see the growth slowing down for several years as right now we are just moving from early adopters, which are educated and highly health conscious, to more mainstream users,” Schenk said.
With bicycle desks or desk cycles, workers can pedal their way through the day on a small stationary bike mounted under their desk.
Treadmill desks can range from about $800 to $5,000 or more, depending on the manufacturer and model. Desks cycles start as low as $149 for models that can fit under an existing desk but can run $1,400 or more for those with a desk built in. Standup desks can run as low as $250 for platforms that can rest on an existing desk.
Some workers have opted for lower-profile — and lower-cost — ways to stay fit at work, such as sitting on giant exercise balls instead of chairs. Using the inflatable balls can help improve posture and strengthen abs, legs and back muscles.
“I’ve got nurses in my operating room who will use one of those balls instead of a chair,” said Michael Maloney, a professor of orthopedics and sports medicine specialist at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
Maloney said anyone trying an exercise ball, treadmill desk or moving workstation should approach it with common sense. Those who have not been exercising regularly should start using the equipment in small time increments to avoid injury, he said.