Americans find merit in exercise at desks

WASHINGTON — Glued to your desk at work? Cross that off the list of excuses for not having the time to exercise.

A growing number of Americans are standing, walking, and even cycling their way through the workday at treadmill desks, standup desks, or other moving workstations.

Walking on a treadmill while making phone calls and sorting through e-mail means ‘‘being productive on two fronts,’’ said Andrew Lockerbie, senior vice president of benefits at Brown & Brown, a global insurance consulting firm.


He can burn 350 calories a day walking three to four miles on one of two treadmill desks that his firm’s Indianapolis office purchased earlier this year.

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‘‘I’m in meetings and at my desk and on the phone all day,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s great to be able to have an option at my work to get some physical activity while I’m actually doing office stuff.”

Treadmill desks designed for the workplace are normally set to move at 1 to 2 miles per hour, enough to get the heart rate up but not too fast to distract from reading or talking on the phone comfortably.

It has been a decade since scientific studies began to show that too much sitting can lead to obesity and increase the risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Even going to the gym three times a week does not offset the harm of being sedentary for hours at a time, said Dr. James Levine, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic.

‘‘There’s a glob of information that sitting is killing us,’’ Levine said. ‘‘You’re basically sitting yourself into a coffin.’’