Health Care Workers Testing Out Desk Treadmills

Lorraine McPhail (left), an employee in the Provincial Health Contact Centre in Misericordia Health Centre, discusses her treadmill workstation with researcher Danielle Bouchard, of the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management. (UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA / HANDOUT)

Could treadmills replace office chairs in workplaces one day? That’s what a researcher from the University of Manitoba is trying to find out.

Danielle Bouchard and her team in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management have enlisted the help of 20 employees at the Misericordia Health Centre to take turns using treadmill workstations.

The idea is to study how to keep office workers healthier, while at the same time balancing productivity in a work environment.

“Over the last decades, a shift towards the service industry has meant that jobs requiring physical activity in the workplace have reduced from 50 per cent to 20 per cent,” Bouchard said.

“Today, it’s been proven that it is important to reduce sitting time at work, even if you exercise regularly.”

Misericordia staff in the Provincial Health Contact Centre are taking turns to test four treadmills by rotating between two and four hours per shift. Bouchard has been monitoring the workers’ usage patterns, blood pressure, heart rate, diet, sleep patterns, job satisfaction and productivity.

“I expect that sharing treadmill workstations will help reduce sedentary behaviour in the workplace, increase employees’ health and job satisfaction and maintain or increase productivity,” she added.