Walking while working to prevent disease - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Walking while working to prevent disease

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For anyone who has a tough time working out after a long day at work or school, there's an option available to help you work and walk at the same time. It comes in the form of a desk treadmill. We caught up with several Houstonians who use one.

Dr. Cecilia Valdes works at Texas Children's Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine. She's made a transition from seeing patients to instructing medical students, so she was concerned that she's not as active as she used to be. "I was having trouble staying awake in the afternoon, and I knew I was going to start gaining weight and my metabolism was going to go down," explains Dr. Valdes. That's when she started looking for answers, because she just didn't want to work out when she got home at night. She ran across a researcher's findings, from the Mayo Clinic. "He found out the difference between thin and obese people is how much they move. How much fidgeting the thin people do. They get up, get a glass of water, and you know feed the dog, don't sit for long. He came up with a treadmill desk for himself. When I read that, I thought this is fascinating to incorporate movement into your day, so you don't have to go to the gym or run," says Dr. Valdes.

Dr. Valdes says she tried to make her own homemade treadmill desk, but it didn't work. She's tried several brands, but finally found the one for her. "I found this LifeSpan desk, which is really well designed. It's much better than the piece I tried to put together myself," she states.

Dr. Valdes says she no longer needs a shot of caffeine in the afternoon, because walking has given her more energy. In fact, she's so happy with her results, she's now getting medical students to try it and plans to begin studying them, to find out if it helps make them be more productive. "There is some evidence that movement increases brain blood flow significantly, so there's already evidence that people who exercise actually prevent dementia and store memory better, but I want to study what is happening while you're moving," says Dr. Valdes.

Some doctors warn that sitting all day can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. Employees at SouthWest Electronic Energy in Missouri City are trying to ward off those serious problems. "I believe our company is on the cutting edge of where our work life is going. By getting LifeSpan (treadmill desk) throughout our company, it's making it easier on our employees getting in walking and helping their health at the same time," says Pamela Daniel. She's a busy working mom, who just couldn't find time to exercise outside of work, so now she exercises during work. "I have been doing this now for 3-4 months and just having that 1-2 hours of walking every day, my blood pressure came down and my medication was cut in half, just due to being able to walk," says Pamela.

Her boss was so excited about her results, he got one not only for himself, but for the entire break room. "I think it will keep us in better shape, keep us more alert, get rid of the kinks we all get and aggravate us. I think it will have a good positive effect on the environment and people," says CEO Len Benckenstein. "By the time I leave work, after on here a couple of hours, I'm full of energy, I'm raring to go onto the next challenge," says Pamela. She has even logged her miles and just in the past few months, by walking 1 mile-per-hour throughout the day, she has walked an equivalence to Dallas!

Everyone we talked to, using these, agrees, our bodies just aren't made to sit in one place all day.

"They say sitting is a lethal condition, and it is. Sitting for hours and hours a day makes your metabolism go in a bad direction. Studies show just getting up once every two hours, blood sugars and other methods of metabolism make a significant improvement," says Dr. Valdes.

The Medical Director of Texas Children's Employee Health Clinic is all for it! "It takes a while to see the benefits, but in the long run, many studies show a healthy lifestyle, especially stress, it's going to have a great benefit. Anything in your day-to-day work, whether taking the stairs, or walking on the treadmill, it's going to impact your health very significantly," says Dr. William Perkison.

Dr. Valdes says it's easy to check e-mail, do paperwork, and talk on the phone while walking on her desk treadmill. She just has a different space for meetings or a more involved project. The maximum walking speed is 4 miles per hour, versus a typical treadmill that may go up to 12-miles per hour. The lowest price we could find for a desk like this is 800 dollars.

For more information, you can check out: http://www.lifespanfitness.com/treadmill-desk.html

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