In recent years, there have been a series of studies revealing the many health risks associated with too much sitting. The link between being deskbound and the danger of disease are so startling that some experts are calling sitting the new smoking. Prolonged inactivity has even been connected to heart disease and some types of cancer.
That is the bad news, the good news is that companies like LifeSpan Fitness, a high-end manufacturer of unique exercise equipment, are finding creative solutions to combat the much too common problem. For all the negative symptoms which are associated with sitting, there are equally positive results related to an active lifestyle which is not limited to the gym.
Stepping up to the belt
In 2012, Lifespan began to notice customers using their treadmills in a new and unexpected way. Rather than putting them in a fitness room to be used at the end of the day, clients were placing the machines beneath their standing desks in order to exercise while on the job.
“It was a grassroots beginning,” explains Jamie Airmet, the Creative Art Director at Lifespan. “As our customers learned more about the downsides of sitting, they began to blaze a trail.”
With this new development came new demands. Treadmills which were built to be used at high-speeds were carrying heavier weight caused by shorter and slower strides for six to eight hours a day.
“It was just too much strain on the belt,” Jamie says. “So we started shopping around for a belt which could fit our customer`s needs. We tested a few different belts and Habasit clearly won. When looking at pricing, longevity, and durability, it was just the obvious choice, and not to mention, we could offer a product to our customers which was absolutely maintenance free.”
On the move
With a reliable belt in place, customer benefits only grew from there. Health studies continued to come out revealing that a treadmill desk not only increases brain activity, improves short-term memory, decreases the risk of depression, but also enhances overall performance in the workplace. While LifeSpan`s line has expanded to include bike desks, standing desks and balance boards, Jamie says that the treadmill desk is at the core of their products.
“So many times you are just a cog in a machine and what you produce doesn’t affect anyone`s life,” says Jamie, “but once we came out with the treadmill desk, we saw such a transformation. Customers would say how it changed their life, how they were more productive and more engaged simply because there was blood flowing to their brain.”
With such enthusiastic customers, it has made Jamie`s job in marketing quite easy, but he still encounters the occasional skeptic.
“Sometimes I will be at a tradeshow and see people walking down the aisle and texting on their phones. Then they see our product and say, `Oh man, I don’t know if I could walk and type at the same time.` Then I hand them a phone and say that it is just like texting and walking, only you don’t crash into things.”
Thinking fast, walking slow
While the speed of the treadmill can be easily adjusted to almost any work activity, Jamie says the ability to think fast is one of the greatest benefits of walking on the job. “It`s not a trend or a fad,” he explains. “It has just been in the last few years of the life of mankind that we have gotten into this work environment where we only stay in one place. We just weren`t built to do that.”