PSU Fitness Chief Works from Treadmill Desk

Published 04/17 2014 05:59PM

Updated 04/17 2014 06:02PM

UNIVERSITY PARK, CENTRE COUNTY - A large study found women who sat six or more hours a day were 34 percent more likely to die over a 14-year period. Men had a 17 percent higher  death rate . So what do you do, if  much of your day requires sitting at a desk?

At least one hour a day, Penn State Fitness Coordinator Jill Garrigan teaches an exercise class. Sometime during the day, she's also been on a run. But she spends much of her work day at a desk, on the computer.

She tried a regular desk and using an exercise ball as a chair, but "I found myself flexing forward, leaning forward and everything kept moving forward, I didn't want to be this little old lady that walked moving forward."

So, the fitness buff found a solution that got her moving in another direction--a treadmill desk. She started walking while working, in January.

She can read emails up to a speed of about 1.5 miles an hour, but as she goes faster, it's harder to focus on work. But, increasing speed isn't her goal.

"I actually feel I can breathe better because I'm standing up a little taller instead of hunched over. I think that helps by the end of the day," she says.

The treadmill helps her focus on her posture,  so she stands taller and feels better all day long. No more crampy achy shoulders.

At Drayer Physical Therapy in Altoona, Clinical Director Aileen Krimmel helps patients recover from too much time  hunching over a computer.

She says she sees a lot of patients with neck and low back pain. But,  would  walking at a desk  be a better alternative or does it carry it's own risks?

Not necessarily.  "Standing and walking, if you can do it in your work day,  is actually a great opportunity to sort of make yourself a little bit healthier," she explains.

Krimmel  wouldn't recommend using a treadmill desk 8 hours a day, but neither would Garrigan, who spends time on and off the treadmill.

She says her unique desk is  here to stay.  "I know I'll keep it. I love it," she says, smiling.

Krimmel would like a go on the "machine."  "I wish we could do it here," she says. "Maybe, you know, just to try it out."
Both women recommend starting out slowly with the treadmill desk. Garrigan says it would probably be even more helpful for people who aren't as active as she is.

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