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National Walking Day: Taking steps to improve workplace wellness

Today has been designated as National Walking Day by the American Heart Association. The group has long been proponents of giving employees the resources to lead healthier and more active lives now that many of us spend so much time sitting at our desks. Studies have consistently shown that extended periods of inactivity have contributed to health issues and work-related injuries.

In order to counteract the dangers associated with sedentary lifestyles, there are some companies designing alternatives to the traditional desk and chair that are contributing to various health issues. One substitute that some companies are already utilizing to improve employee wellness is a treadmill desk.

A treadmill desk is exactly what it sounds like: a desktop station fitted with a treadmill that allows users to walk at various speeds during the workday. Studies show that people need to take 10,000 steps a day to dramatically reduce their risk of heart attacks, type 2 diabetes, stroke and cancer. By giving workers the freedom to walk while working, it is much easier to take these steps towards better health.

Not only can the treadmill desk improve a person's physical health, but reports indicate that it can also make workers more alert, give them more energy after the work day, aid in weight loss and reduce stress levels. These benefits have been linked to improved physical, mental and emotional wellness.

While there are some risks associated with the multitasking that is required to operate a walking treadmill, manufacturers say that the risk level is minimal. Because the treadmill is generally fitted with emergency stop keys and can operate at very low speeds, users can get the benefits of staying active at work without worrying about the dangers of falling.

Encouraging workers to be well and giving them the tools to stay active are ways in which employers can help their employees stay healthy. It can also be very beneficial in preventing work-related accidents and injuries.

Source: Forbes, "Walking While You Work," Robert Glatter, April 2, 2013

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