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Working out while working? What in the world is a treadmill desk?

August 30, 2011|Jean Jadhon | WDBJ-TV Anchor/Reporter

It's meant to improve employees' health and brings new meaning to the word multi-tasking. It's being tested in three different work spaces at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.

Employees at W&L are taking steps to get healthy. They're walking while working. Their feet are moving, while their hands are typing. They are using treadmill desks, but these desks are not meant to take the place of working out.

"It's just to keep you moving." said Mary Katherine Snead, the Assistant Director of Worklife Initiatives at W&L, who heads up the University's wellness program.

Those steps do add up.  In fact during our interview Snead logged a quarter of a mile, and yes she demonstrated in a wedge heel. "I think if I was going to do this all day I would not have the wedge heel on," Snead said. "I think you could do this in a flat all day."


 Cathy McElhannon sets the speed at 2 miles an hour, and logs about 3 miles a day, but she plans to increase her mileage when school starts. "I'm sure I'll do at least four or five miles when I do go back full time," McElhannon said.

She said it's not as hard as it looks. "People say I don't know how you can do that.  I can't even talk and chew gum at the same time. I don't even realize I'm walking," McElhannon said.

McElhannon also works on Excel spreadsheets. but she's got her eye on some other numbers too.  "I'm really anxious to see if I lose weight and I'm hoping to lower my cholesterol too." she said.

And even after just a few weeks she says she already feels healthier. "I think I have more energy when I'm on the treadmill all day," McElhannon said.

The three treadmills that are being used are actually old ones from the University's fitness center and the desks that go with them cost $500 each.  The Univerisity is testing them out for six months and if all goes well, more treadmill desks may be added.

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