Study assesses use of desk-based exercise bike

Workplaces should consider introducing portable pedal machines in an effort to counter the harmful effects of sedentary jobs, a study has suggested.

The US research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine tracked 18 full-time employees, who were given a pedal exercise machine for four weeks, specifically designed to be used while seated at a desk in the workplace.

The bike comprised a set of pedals that could be set up in front of most standard office chairs for use while seated, and made very little noise. The average age of the participants was 40, with most of them female and overweight. All had jobs that involved spending at least three-quarters of the working day sitting at a desk or workstation.

The volunteers were wired up to an exercise tracking device via their computers, which monitored their activity and provided real-time feedback on pedal speed, distance covered and how many calories they burned.

On average, the workers used the pedal machines on 12 out of a possible 20 working days, ranging from two days to 20, and for an average of 23 minutes each of those days, ranging from one to 73 minutes.

Distances covered throughout the day ranged from one-third of a mile to almost 13.5 miles, with from nine to more than 500 calories burned in the process.

In a post-survey questionnaire, the volunteers said that they found the machine easy to use and an alternative to exercise during bad weather, with an overwhelming majority adding that they would use such a machine regularly at work if offered one by their employer.

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