Portable, cheap and effective: those who have tried it are satisfied and have burnt up to 500 calories a day. It is a serious problem: the vast majority of people spend all day sitting still at their desks and no time at all doing any exercise. But what would happen if there were a mini-bicycle under each desk allowing us to pedal away whilst reading our emails, working on excel or having a tea break? Lucas Carr, a researcher from the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at the University of East Carolina, tested the theory on volunteer overweight patients undergoing weight loss treatment .
The results, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine seem to be very positive. The bike is easy to use: it consists of a set of near-silent pedals placed underneath a desk, these can be comfortably used whilst seated and are suitable for any office desk. Carr’s study involved 18 office workers who had previously tried other means of weight loss, their mean age was 40, and most of them where overweight and female; nearly all of those involved spent 75% of their day in front of a computer, tied to their desk. Each volunteer was able to monitor the distance covered by bike, the time spent pedalling, and the number of calories burnt. Volunteers were at liberty to choose how much time to dedicate to cycling per day, and the study lasted a total of 4 weeks.
Participants used the bikes for an average of 12 out a maximum 20 working days; the average time spent pedalling per day was 23 minutes. Some participants did take full advantage of their new cycling machine clocking up several miles every day, some cycled for up to 73 minutes a day. The range of distances covered was from 500 meters a day to over 20km for the real enthusiasts. A lot of calories were burnt on average by the volunteers as well, the downright lazy only burnt 9 calories on average a day, but some people managed to consistently burn 500 calories every single day thanks to the mini-desk-bike. Burning 500 extra calories a day is equivalent to losing a pound a week, all without even having to grace a gym class. Participants were asked to fill out a detailed questionnaire to find out what they thought about the introduction of exercise equipment in the office, and most agreed the new accessory was beneficial for their health. The workers also confirmed that having the exercise bikes di not hamper the quality of their work or their productivity.
The initial enthusiasm towards the experiment wore off after the first few days and even more as the experiment went on, however, many people maintained a satisfactory or good level of use of their office gym equipment. Desk-bikes are a low cost way of incorporating exercise into your daily routine, so is the secret to combatting obesity getting people to be more active?