Monday, December 27, 2010

New Year's Resolution: Get Fit Using Agile Workstations

*NEW* FitDesk Space Saving Semi Recumbent X Bike for Laptops and GamingEvery New Year, I come up with a New Year's resolution list, and it almost always includes getting in better shape by joining a gym. Unfortunately, I never seem to follow through on it. But how about getting fit at work by using an Agile Workstation?

Soho Adjustable Computer Workstation - BlackMedium CherryRecently, Matt, a colleague of mine, setup a make shift standing work station. He stacked some books on top of some boxes to lift up his keyboard and mouse. He also placed his monitor higher up on a shelf. His argument was that this gives him better posture and reduces neck pain and is better for his overall health. Everyday he codes standing up for about 2 to 3 hours and then goes back to a more traditional seated coding position.

This reminded me of a presentation given by Doug Bradbury at Agile 2010 entitled “Walk and Code”. Doug presented data that showed that we sit significantly more and stand significantly less on our work days than on our leisure days. Another study showed that obese individuals were seated on average 2 hours longer per day than lean individuals. Yet another study showed that men and women had a 17% and 37% higher chance of death when sitting more than 6 hours per day as compared to those sitting less than 3 hours per day. When we factor in sitting and not exercising then the numbers jump to an alarming 48% and 95% respectively. So clearly we need to exercise during our work week. But does standing or walking count?

Walkstation Height-Adjustable Desk and TreadmillDoug next describes the research done by Dr. James Levine on non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) which is the calories people burn during everyday activities like walking, standing or even fidgeting. Dr. Levine is studying the effect of NEAT on energy expenditure and overall good health. Simply walking at a slow 1 mph can burn an extra 100 cal/hr. Dr. Levine came up with an adjustable treadmill desk where people can walk and work, stand, or sit. He believes this can help in both health and productivity as people stay motivated, alert and focused. However, this adjustable workstation cost $4000+.

TrekDesk Treadmill DeskSo like Matt, Doug setup his own make shift treadmill/desk by buying a used treadmill from ebay and a desk from IKEA. After 22 weeks he had walked 240 miles (average of 11 mi/week) by just walking and coding!

So are you up for it? I found a treadmill desk add-on on amazon for $400. If this all sounds too extreme and expensive then try replacing your chair with an exercise ball or bicycle, or simply take the stairs instead of the elevators, park far from the office, and take a walk at lunch. Good Luck and Happy New Year!

TKO Anti Burst Fitness Ball Set 65cm
To learn more about NEAT check out

To find out more on how Dough constructed his workstation, check out his blog

Here are links to studies referenced in Dough's presentation: