By Deanna C. White
Cindy Mayhak set an impressive fitness goal for herself in 2012. She plans to log 1,250 miles on her treadmill by December 31, averaging five miles a day, every Monday through Friday.
But unlike those of us who try to fit their workout in either before or after work, Mayhak, a job cost accountant with Paul Davis Restoration in Vancouver, Washington, doesn't worry about when she's going to hit the gym. She walks on her treadmill while she's working.
Mayhak is just one of the many wellness-minded professionals who decided to break away from their desk without breaking away from the office by using a TrekDesk to shatter their sedentary lifestyle and the health risks associated with it.
According to Steve Bordley, CEO of TrekDesk Treadmill Desks, the TrekDesk allows employees to walk slowly while they work. Designed to fit any treadmill, the TrekDesk is a full-sized workstation, complete with features like a manuscript holder, a file folder with three levels, and a top stand that holds telephones, headsets, or cell phones.
Bordley says the TrekDesk allows individuals to reap the myriad benefits of a lifestyle in motion, including weight loss, disease prevention, health restoration, mood improvement, and increased productivity - in short, a total overhaul of an individual's mental and physical well-being.
According to TrekDesk, the American Heart Association has stated that walking 10,000 steps (five miles) a day could reduce the risk of initial heart attacks by 90 percent and reduce the risk of stroke by 70 percent. The National Institutes for Health found that 10,000 steps could reduce the risk of various cancers from 30 to 70 percent. The American Diabetes Association states that 10,000 steps daily could reduce the rate of type 2 diabetes in the United States by 50 percent.
Bordley said sales of the TrekDesk are skyrocketing among college-educated professionals. Although top-down management at all but the most innovative companies has yet to embrace the product, the grassroots movement is catching on with many smaller firms and home offices.
"Even if you go to the gym all day, even if you're a perfectly health conscious individual, studies show that sitting for just four hours a day raises the risk of a cardiac event by 80 percent. It raises the mortality rate by 46 percent", Bordley said. "No matter how health conscious you are, you cannot undo the damage done by sitting all day."
That's exactly why Mayhak said she made a concerted effort to get moving at work.
"Basically, I just didn't want to be sitting on my butt all day. I have to commute thirty miles to work and I have three kids at home, so I needed to a figure out a way to multitask", Mayhak said. "My home time is very important to me, and the TrekDesk allows me to fit my fitness in without taking time away from home by going to a gym."
Mayhak says she never had any difficulty adjusting to the walking-while-working process, and she encourages those who fear they might take a treadmill tumble while focused on a particularly daunting spreadsheet to simply give the product a try.
"You'd be surprised how easy it is", Mayhak said. "Our bodies are designed to use, designed to move. This really isn't an art form. It just comes naturally. Just start slowly and it becomes second nature."
In the thirteen months Mayhak has been using the TrekDesk, she's lost thirty-two pounds. She walked 692 miles in 2011 and has already walked 234 miles this year. Her coworkers cheer on her efforts by charting her miles on an imaginary trek to Mexico.
"They told me by the end of January I had already arrived in Eugene, Oregon, and they think I'm somewhere in California by now", Mayhak said.
But what about the sedentary skeptics who claim the TrekDesk, or any form of walking while working, will decrease productivity and create a distraction in the office?
Both Bordley and Mayhak strongly disagree.
"Studies from the Mayo Clinic and the University of Illinois focusing on production and cognition both found a 15 percent increase in productivity and mental abilities respectively", stated Bordley. "What was astounding about the Illinois study is that the gains occurred in a six-month time frame among a study population previously sedentary and over the age of sixty-five."
Mayhak says she believes walking while working actually increases her focus and efficiency.
"My mind isn't as distracted when I'm walking because I really have to focus on what I'm doing", Mayhak said "Studies have shown that people think better while walking and I feel that's true. I'm more focused and I feel better, and everyone knows a happy worker is more productive than one who's down in the dumps."