Meta-analysis finds cycling and treadmill workstations slightly better than standing desks
Compared with standing desks, cycling and treadmill workstations burned slightly more calories and were associated with a marginal blood pressure drop, according to a systematic review.
A 5- to 12-bpm increase in heart rate was observed among people working on a treadmill going 1.5-2 mph or cycling with 30 W resistance. Going slower at these stations, however, produced no elevation in heart rate than if the person had just been at a standing desk, reported Marie-Eve Mathieu, PhD, of the University of Montreal, and colleagues online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.
Cycling with 20-30 W resistance led to an increase in double the metabolic equivalent (MET) in energy expended compared with standing desks. Similarly, treadmills set at 1-1.5 mph raised the energy expenditure by 1 MET, the researchers found.
Blood pressure was similar between standing and treadmill groups in one study included in the review; the other study to assess blood pressure showed that ambulatory systolic blood pressure fell by 1-2 mm Hg when overweight people cycled at 20 W and/or walked at 1 mile/hour on the treadmill during daytime work hours, and by 8-9 mm Hg in the late afternoon-evening.
"The benefits associated with each type of active workstation (e.g., standing, treadmill, cycling) may not be equivalent. Overall, cycling and treadmill workstations appear to provide greater short-term physiological changes than standing workstations that could potentially lead to better health," Mathieu's group concluded.
The caveat was that the active workstations were associated with slower typing, as well as slower and less accurate mouse pointing on the computer.
The meta-analysis by Mathieu and colleagues included 12 studies that generally included a few dozen people each. Investigators for these studies had assessed the interventions for no more than a workday at a time.
"Understanding the true effects of interacting with these workstations would take weeks, months, or even years. Some of the immediate physiological and psychobiological results found could be amplified over time, could decrease, or could even disappear as an individual adapts to the workstation. An hour or a day is nowhere near long enough to understand what is truly happening," noted Susan Kotowski, PhD, of the University of Cincinnati College of Allied Health Sciences, who was not involved with the study.
"It's great that scientists are looking into these alternative types of workstations. However ... drawing conclusions in terms of the clinical significance of these findings based on the given data would be premature and a disservice to the community," she said.
Still, the "soft benefits" that Mathieu's group attribute to treadmill and cycling workstations are "reassuring," commented Chip Lavie, MD, of the John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute in New Orleans. "What people really care about are 'hard events,' like heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, cardiovascular deaths, and all-cause mortality. Obviously, this is not available."
"In a perfect world, everyone would be exercising 30 to 45 minutes most days and limiting sitting time to <6-8 hours per day and avoiding sitting for more than 30 minutes straight," he told MedPage Today. "This is far from the case, so any efforts to increase physical activity and reduce sedentary time are good ideas."
The study was funded by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research and Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
Mathieu reported no conflicts of interest.
Occupational & Environmental Medicine
Source Reference: Dupont F, et al "Health and productivity at work: which active workstation for which benefits: a systematic review" Occup Environ Med 2019; DOI: 10.1136/oemed-2018-105397.
Read the original article on Medpage Today: Office Fitness: Options but Little Difference