A new study found that encouraging employees to be more active by using portable pedals under their desks may improve their sedentary lifestyle.

Office workers are prone to the harmful effects of stationary work. They tend to sit around all day, look in front of the computer and stay physically inactive during the rest of the day. With this, the researchers from the University of Iowa (UI) think that it is important to incorporate health promotion and health protection measures to enhance the health of office employees.

The study looked into several parameters and tested an integrated intervention on cardiac and metabolic disease indicators, behavior towards sedentary and active lifestyle, distress in muscular and skeletal systems and work output.

The study led by Lucas Carr, an assistant professor of Health and Human Physiology and member of the Obesity Research and Education Initiative at the UI, involved 27 employee volunteers at an Iowa company named ACT Inc. The participants agreed to have an activeLife TrainerTM pedal equipment under their desks. A monitoring device was attached to the exercise machine to record each subject's pedal time. The researchers also sent the participants three emails per week to remind them about maintaining good posture and provide tips on how they can stay active while at work.

The findings of the study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, show that the participants pedaled an average of 50 minutes per day for 16 weeks. The participants, who were once just sitting around all day, tend to move more even without leaving their desks. The researchers also discovered that weight loss, better concentration and lesser sick leaves were noted among the participants who pedaled more.

"We are really looking to identify sustainable solutions," says Carr. The goal is to devise a way that can help people to employ healthy behaviors that they can maintain for a long time.

In the end, 70 percent of the subjects expressed their desire to keep their pedaling device, which is something that Carr did not expect but made him very hopeful.

Among the other findings that the researchers think is influential to the study are the provision of individual devices, maintenance of privacy while pedaling and ensuring comfort and ease. The design of the device is critically essential, says Carr.

In conclusion, the researchers said that enhancing physical activity while at work may be linked to better health and overall improved work performance. The results of this study are vital for company owners or employers, who seek to find ways of improving their sedentary employees' health.

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