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Treadmill desks keep Jacksonville, Fla workers standing and moving on the job

11:21 PM, Feb 13, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It's a growing trend in work places all across the country. In Jacksonville, it's catching on in some surprising places.

Jennifer Mansfield is a partner at the law firm Holland & Knight. Like most Americans, Jennifer found herself sitting for up to 14 hours a day. She was getting ready for work one day and heard a radio piece about treadmill desks. That story changed her work life. 

"I'd heard of people standing at their desks but I'd never heard of a treadmill desk and as soon as I heard it, I knew it was for me," Jennifer said.

Jennifer did not walk, she ran, straight to the internet to investigate.

"I looked at different websites and looked at different products before I settled on this one," Jennifer said.

So Jennifer packed away her antique lawyer's desk, one that had once belonged to a state senator, and ordered a solid maple sit/stand desk that raises and lowers with the flick of a switch.

This growing trend of treadmill desks are the brain child of Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic. According to, his research shows that walkers burn can burn an extra 100 calories an hour, even at speeds of less than 1 mile per hour.

Dr. Mobeen Rathore with Shands Jacksonville also keeps active on the treadmill desk in his own office. He prescribes realistic expectations for anyone hoping to see dramatic weight loss.

"This is not what you want to get to lose weight," said Dr. Rathore.  "I'm sure it will help. This is not a substitute for your other exercises and activities. This is an addition to that, this is really key."

Dr. Rathore recommends pacing yourself and turning the treadmill into a daily habit.

"You have to make it part of your routine, your lifestyle, good eating habits, take the stairs."

For Jennifer, the biggest benefit is making sure daily exercise is part of her busy schedule.

"I don't feel as pressured because my work, my particular job," Jennifer said.  "I'm regularly at the office 10 - 12 hours a day.  It's really difficult to go to the gym after that amount of time away from home. You wind up working, going home, sleeping, going back to work and then there's no quality of life."

If a walking desk seems like too big a step, you can also check out standing desks, which offer many of the same health benefits.

Specialized ergonomic desks and chairs, including stand up desks and treadmill desks like Jennifer's, can range in price from $500 to as much as $4,000. 

A more cost-effective solution, and one that we saw frequently while working on this story, is a stack of phone books or banker boxes that elevate the keyboard and monitor. But with any do it yourself project, raise at your own risk.

There are many resources that can help you educate yourself if you're thinking of making the switch. The links here are the first step:

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