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Get Fit While You Sit – Pedaling at Work May Improve Your Health

New Studies Show Positive Impact of Pedal Desks for Sedentary Workers
Released: Friday, November 16, 2018

Baton Rouge, Louisiana -- Researchers at LSU's Pennington Biomedical Research Center and the University of Massachusetts Amherst found that pedal desks appear to provide health benefits for sedentary workers and are an acceptable alternative exercise workstation.

Martin on Pedal Desk
Pennington Biomedical's Dr. Corby Martin demonstrates the Pennington Pedal Desk™.

People who work in sedentary environments have increased risks for obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Pedal desks may provide a practical option for deskbound workers to improve their metabolic health while maintaining their work performance.

"Pedal desks have legitimate health benefits, and further, we find that people find them acceptable," said Corby Martin, PhD, director of Pennington Biomedical's Ingestive Behavior Laboratory and head of the study, which was recently published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

The study at the University of Massachusetts Amherst discovered that pedaling while conducting work tasks improved insulin responses to a test meal. Investigators led by Dr. Stuart Chipkin found that insulin levels following the meal were lower when sedentary workers used a pedal desk compared to a standard desk.

"It took much less insulin to keep their blood sugars the same," said Dr. Chipkin. "This means that the body doesn't work so hard to maintain blood glucose and fatty acid levels with use of the pedal desk compared to a standard desk. From the metabolic point of view, the pedal desk seems to be helpful and from the work point of view, work tasks were not impaired."

The study at Pennington Biomedical recruited full-time sedentary workers to use the Pennington Pedal Desk™ for about 20 minutes while they completed their usual work tasks. The pedal desk continuously tracked revolutions per minute (RPM) and the amount of power from pedaling.

"We found that the pedaling speed didn't really decrease when people were working," said Dr. Martin. "[Participants] were pedaling at about the same rate regardless. I think that's a really positive message."

The researchers found that participants were able to effectively perform normal deskwork including typing, writing and talking on the phone. Participants rated the Pennington Pedal Desk™ workstation positively and indicated the potential for extended daily use, including up to four hours per workday. They also revealed that they, their co-workers and supervisors would find it acceptable and not a distraction to their workflow.

This Pennington Biomedical study was partially supported by Pennington Biomedical Nutrition Obesity Research Center Grant # 2P30DK072476 titled "Nutritional Programming: Environmental and Molecular Interactions" sponsored by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; and the Pennington Medical Foundation.

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The Pennington Biomedical Research Center is at the forefront of medical discovery as it relates to understanding the triggers of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia. It is a campus of Louisiana State University and conducts basic, clinical and population research. The research enterprise at Pennington Biomedical includes approximately 58 faculty and more than 18 postdoctoral fellows who comprise a network of 40 laboratories supported by lab technicians, nurses, dietitians, and support personnel, and 13 highly specialized core service facilities. Pennington Biomedical’s more than 450 employees perform research activities in state-of-the-art facilities on the 222-acre campus located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.