Most adults are aware of the health benefits of getting regular exercise and, on the flip side, the health risks of a majorly sedentary lifestyle. There is a plethora of research about how exercise increases your heart health, but that doesn’t change the fact that sometimes you are just too busy with work, parenting, school, or whatever your agenda is filled with, to receive the proper amount of exercise each week.
Researchers know this, so some have started to look at how we can fit the right amount of exercise to keep us healthy into our busy schedules, and how our employers can help us in this journey of heart health and overall fitness.
In a new study, a team of researchers at the University of Stirling, found that employers could help drastically reduce an employee’s risk of heart disease by providing an exercise bike in the office.
The health benefits of this in-office cycling routine
The study, published in the BMC Public Health Journal, found that employers could help staff reduce their risk of heart disease by 15% with the help of an exercise bike in the office.
The researchers found that office employees who cycle for just 18 minutes per week could see health benefits, including improved overall fitness and a reduced risk for type 2 diabetes.
People who do not get enough exercise are at an increased risk of developing diseases, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes. One of the reasons people don’t receive enough exercise is lack of time due to spending all day sitting at a desk at work and many people having lengthy commutes.
As a part of an effort to discover alternative exercise routines that help people reap the benefits in a shorter amount of time, the research team introduced exercise bikes into office settings. Volunteers at these offices were asked to cycle for eight minutes and 40 seconds twice per week.
“The efficacy of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) as a time-efficient exercise strategy for beneficially modifying risk factors for cardiovascular disease has repeatedly been demonstrated in controlled laboratory settings,” the authors wrote.
The authors used a version of a HIIT workout for this study. A HIIT workout is very intense, and thus will probably make you sweat, making it not ideal for an in-office workout. Instead, the researchers used a form of training called reduced-exertion high intensity interval training (REHIIT).
The time-efficient exercise routine on the bike involves slow pedaling on a stationary bike, interspersed with two short bursts of high-intensity cycling. Participants rode on CAR.O.L bikes, which allow users to reach their own maximum exercise intensity for very short durations.
REHIIT is ideal for office settings because participants can wear their normal work clothes and it involves a low sweat response, which is ideal for exercising during the workday and eliminating the need for a post-workout shower.
For the study, the researchers recruited 25 previously inactive office employees from local authority offices in the area. The researchers divided the participants into two groups: the exercise group included 13 people and the control group included 12.
The bikes were set up in the workplace, out of sight from other colleagues, so that participants could comfortably ride twice a week for six weeks.
The researchers found that the REHIT routine was effective at improving the overall health of participants. Those in the exercise group saw a 10% increase in V̇O2max, a measure of the maximum amount volume of oxygen you can use during exercise, compared to the control group. A 10% increase of V̇O2max equates to a 15% reduction for getting heart disease later in life. The researchers expect that continuing the REHIT routine would improve V̇O2max further, which would even further reduce the risk of heart disease.
Workplace exercise during coronavirus
While COVID-19 still rules most aspects of our lives, it’s understandable that employers may be reluctant to set up a workplace exercise area anytime soon, but the researchers believe that the findings of this study provide important insight into workplace possibilities once offices return to normal.
Jennifer Fabiano is an SEO reporter at Ladders.