Sedentary Workers Increased Physical Activity Using Office Chairs with Pedals

Lucas J. Carr, PhD Department of Health and Human Physiology University of Iowa Iowa City IA Interview with:
Lucas J. Carr, PhD
Department of Health and Human Physiology
University of Iowa
Iowa City IA 52242

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Carr: Office employees are exposed to hazardous levels of sedentary work which is now known to contribute negatively to both physical and mental health. This study tested the effect of retrofitting standard office desks with portable elliptical machines for the purpose of increasing the physical activity levels of sedentary office workers while they are at work. This approach is slightly different that traditional approaches which ask employees to be more active during non-working hours.  We found employees provided the pedal devices became more active while at work and pedaled an average of 50 minutes per day over four months. These findings suggest this approach was successful at increasing physical activity levels of employees while at work and over a fairly long period of time.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Carr: These findings are relevant to many audiences. For example, employers might be interested in this study as we present a low cost and non-invasive option for improving the health sedentary employees. These findings might also be important to individuals suffering from sedentary related chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer as this device could easily be introduced in multiple settings beyond the worksite including schools and homes. Essentially, this study suggests it is possible to redesign traditionally sedentary environments in a way that allows individuals to be more active and improve their health.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Carr: It is likely that this approach will not work for all employees. Therefore, there is a need to develop and test several other sustainable solutions aimed at reducing sedentary time at work. For example, there are other active workstations including treadmill desks and standing desks that might be useful. There are also tech-based solutions including wearable technologies and new software’s that have great potential to improve health behaviors.


Total Worker Health Intervention Increases Activity of Sedentary Workers

Lucas J. Carr, PhD Christoph Leonhard, PhD Sharon Tucker, RN, PhD Nathan Fethke, PhD Roberto Benzo, BS Fred Gerr, MD

Published Online: August 07, 2015

Publication stage: In Press Corrected Proof


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Lucas J. Carr, PhD (2015). Sedentary Workers Increased Physical Activity Using Office Chairs with Pedals