treadmill deskA new phenomenon that is taking the workplace by storm is the Treadmill desk. Companies like Google and Facebook, as well major universities and hospitals are installing these desks as a perk for employees as well as to get more productivity from them. wanted to hear more about why treadmill desks are quickly becoming a benefit employers are offering. More importantly, we wanted to hear from a treadmill desk user’s perspective about the health benefits they are experiencing.

We had an opportunity to speak with Dr. Michael Hummel who is a Radiologist at Centegra Health System in Mchenry, Illinois. Dr. Hummel is a long time athlete and tennis player. Since he had read so may articles about the dangers of long-term sitting, he decided to start using a treadmill desk in his office. He has been doing so consistently since September of 2012. We were able to interview Dr. Hummel and here are the highlights of that interview: What motivated you to start using a Treadmill desk?

Dr. Hummel: When the X-rays we were using were all put on PAX Systems it all became what we call “soft read” -meaning the reading of the x-rays can all be done from our PC. I wound up sitting at my desk for hours each day moving nothing but my index finger. I was reading a study done at The Mayo Clinic that called long-term sitting as “The new smoking” and I realized that was a path I was traveling on and I decided I needed to do something. Getting a treadmill desk seemed like a good idea. How often do you actually use your Treadmill desk?

Dr. Hummel: I use it every day. Anytime I am not actually with a patient I am on my treadmill desk. I have 4 screens on my desk that allow me to see all of the PAX files I need so I do all of my readings while walking. I purchased a desk that has an electronic adjustment feature, but I really never use it because if I am at my desk I am walking. Is it like getting a workout? Do you break a sweat?

Dr. Hummel: I set the Treadmill at a pace that does not cause me to sweat; I have to be presentable for patients. To get work done, I have to set the treadmill at about 1.5 MPH. I can start to feel a little warm, so I do have a small fan that I have attached to the desk just to keep me cool. However, I do not look at this as a workout. It is simply a way to keep moving instead of being still for a majority of my day.

treadmill desk What type of physical benefits have you experienced from your use of your Treadmill Desk?

Dr. Hummel: That is what has been amazing to me. I’m in my mid 60’s and I have had knee issues for over 30 years, including having 4 knee surgeries. Since I started waking every day on my treadmill desk, my knees have been 100% pain free. This is the first time in decades I can remember not experiencing some sort of arthritis or pain. I can’t medically prove the correlation, but I know there has to be one. I am a tennis player that has been playing a lot more doubles over the past years, but now I am back to playing singles which is much more demanding on my knees. Even with adding singles tennis, I am still pain free. Since this is the only thing about my physical routine I have changed, I have to give credit to my walking daily at my desk while at work. To me it is nothing short of a miracle that I am pain free in my knees. What about noise? Does it affect your work or others?

Dr. Hummel: Not at all. I have never tested the decibels, but I can tell you that I personally use voice recognition software to do my work, and any significant noise could certainly affect the way that the software interprets my voice. I have not in the past year of working ever had that be the case, and this software is pretty touchy. As far as other workers being affected, some of them want to use my treadmill desk from time to time, but it is hard to find a time during the day when I am not on it. Have you lost weight using your treadmill desk?

Dr. Hummel: Well, I have always been in athletic shape and losing weight was not my goal with using a treadmill desk. As I said, I have had some knee problems and so keeping my knees limber and moving was really my goal. That being said, doing the math will tell you that if instead of sitting at my desk I instead walk for about 3 hours a day at 1.5MPH, I am now walking close to 5 miles a day, and even at that pace I will burn an additional 500-600 calories a day. Certainly if losing weight is a goal, this is an easy way to burn off some calories. Anything else you would like to let our readers know about using a treadmill desk?

Dr. Hummel: Not really anything I have not stated above. I have had a great experience that I feel has left me pain free in my knees for the first time in years and I know that sitting all day is just bad for my overall health. I highly recommend a walking treadmill for anyone that is currently sitting all day long. Thanks Dr. Hummel, we appreciate you spending the time to share your story.

Dr. Hummel: Anytime. Thanks for spreading the word.