New study shows how pedal desks can help people who sit all day

With a pedal desk, employees can integrate light exercise into their workday. Ultimately though, the best exercise is one that you will actually do.

We know that sitting all day at work is bad for our health, but new science on standing desks have found that standing at work is not the solution to a sedentary lifestyle either. In a long-term study of 38,000 people, those who stood or walked for more than six hours each day at work had up to three times the risk of surgery for varicose veins, which is associated with higher heart failure risk.

As Aaron Carroll explained in the New York Times about why standing desks are overrated: Standing is not an exercise – the health benefit that could actually help sedentary workers. So standing desks may not be the cure-all to our unhealthy habits at work. But what if there was a way to get exercise at your desk?

Enter the pedal desk.

A new study shows the benefits of a pedal desk

In a new pilot study, University of Massachusetts Amherst researchers said employees may be able to get exercise benefits from a pedal desk without experiencing any drawbacks on their productivity.

Since there are no commercial pedal desks, the researchers created a prototype pedal desk and got 12 sedentary employees to use them. They found that employees using the pedal desk needed less insulin to maintain blood sugar levels, suggesting that the pedal desk boosted participants’ metabolism.

The alternatives to sitting at a desk – such as a standing desk or treadmill desk – come with the risk of standing too long, the researchers said. The advantage of a standing desk is its adaptability to a workers’ needs.

“A pedal desk can be used in a seated position at the user’s own pace for as little or as much time as the worker chooses,” the researchers said in the statement.

With a pedal desk, employees can integrate light exercise into their workday when it is convenient for them. Ultimately though, the best exercise is one that you will actually do. You can get up and walk around, or if you are part of a pilot study, you can pedal your feet at your desk. The benefit of a pedal desk is that it gives sedentary employees more options on how they can move.

Monica Torres|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at mtorres@theladders.com.