Walking whilst Working

Dr. Levine, on the move, at his desk
© Mayo Clinic

A scientifically designed office environment is the practical realization of a decade of research at Mayo Clinic. Dr. Levine, an endocrinologist, has spent his career studying how humans expend energy. “This is a fully functioning office. My entire staff works here,” explains James Levine, M.D., as he walks on the moving treadmill. “The idea is to introduce an environment that will encourage activity in the workplace.”

The idea for the office is based upon Levine’s recent research findings that show that genomic and biological differences impact how many calories a person burns during everyday tasks. It proved the long-discussed concept of a “slow metabolism” as a factor in obesity. It also showed that people can increase their caloric “burn rates” by integrating more movement into their daily regime. Dr. Levine calls this process “non-exercise activity thermogenesis” (NEAT).

The medical discoveries were then translated into patient care. Dr. Levine created his NEAT-oriented office floor. “We have meeting rooms, but for small groups we prefer the track,” says Dr. Levine. He’s referring to a two-lane walking track that circles most of the 5,000-square-foot floor. “So when my colleagues and I ‘take a meeting’ we also take a walk.”

The room makeover cost about $5 per square foot. The standing desks cost about $1,000 each, but the room requires no other office furnishings, and no cubicles. The result: a traditional office floor is transformed into a clean, sunny, open space with 10 Plexiglas standing computer desks, complete with variable-speed treadmills. There are no desk phones or wall phones. All employees wear mobile phones on their belts along with a Mayo-designed standometer that measures their vertical time and recognizes when they sit down. It also tells them how much more activity they need in order to meet their individual activity goals for the day.

MEDICA.de; Source: Mayo Clinic