Maybe you’ve heard the buzz words nutritionists like to use for American’s infamous, first world patterns like “sedentary lifestyle” and “obesity epidemic,” but have you ever heard any solutions offered besides workout routines?
Gannon University administrators recently participated in a pilot program for one of the proposed solutions to sedentary workplaces: treadmill desks.
These desks are designed with a large table to accommodate space for a laptop and any paperwork at the topmost portion, with a functional treadmill for walking at the bottom portion.
They are not designed like cardio treadmills used at the gym, however. The goal is not to reach a maximum speed or heart rate, rather maximum productivity.
They don’t go over a speed of 4 mph, and most people find around 2 mph the most comfortable speed. While studying at a treadmill desk, students burn an average of 100 calories an hour as compared to sitting around.
Connie Kercher, the director of Student Development and Engagement as well as the recently appointed director of recreation and wellness, said these desks are tools for the university.
Kercher said she hoped that the pilot program would increase engagement, productivity and physical activity.
“This is the research phase for these desks,” she said. “We want student and faculty input about what we can do with them and how well they work. [So far] we’re hearing what we wanted, and the six faculty members who piloted them said their wellness is improved.”
Kercher said the desks have been a catalyst for wellness and working. She added that the desks have inspired people to consider their own behaviors while working. Kercher said walking with the desk while working tends to reduce the afternoon slump that most of us experience because it keeps the user busy.
She said it actively engages work stations as opposed to sedentary workplaces, which are much less physically involved.
The funding for this program was supported by Gannon as an investment in the university’s wellness. Kercher said it is part of the university’s commitment to supporting well-rounded individuals and encouraging them to reach their full potentials.
As part of the pilot process for the desks, one of the treadmills was placed in the Commuter Corner in Palumbo Academic Center for a week.
It was in a cumbersome spot behind one of the couches, but an accompanying student log revealed that a few students had tried it out.
Emily Adrian, a freshman biology major, admitted she hadn’t used it at all, nor had seen anyone else trying it out.
“I almost feel like I need to be wearing work-out clothes to try it,” said Adrian. “Vans and jeans just aren’t really the best things to wear on a treadmill.”
Korissa Kasper, a sophomore nursing major, wasn’t even aware the desk was available. Once she approached it, she was unsure about the idea.
“I don’t know if I could concentrate and walk at the same time,” Kasper said. “I’d be afraid to fall off, maybe I’d come in early in the morning and try it when no one was around.”
Students can try studying at treadmill desks for the remainder of the year, as they will be rotated to places such as Waldron, the Power Room, Nash Library and even some of Gannon’s campus housing.
They are currently placed in the Commuter Corner and the Recreation and Wellness center.
This article by Kelsey Ghering originally appeared in The Gannon Knight on Oct. 22, 2014.