The desk – which is a vertical workstation that allows workers to use a computer as they shed extra pounds while running on a treadmill – was the brainchild of the study's authors at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, N.Y.
The device is an H-shaped unit that is supported by four locking rubber wheels. Two adjustable arms bolted onto a Plexiglas panel hold the computer screen, keyboard and mouse. Slats provide storage for personal items.
Researchers studied the energy used by 15 obese and inactive workers while working at the walk-and-work desk and compared it with the energy they consumed while they were seated at their conventional desks.
According to the study, volunteers who walked the equivalent of 1 mile an hour at the vertical workstation burned 191 calories as they worked there for 35 minutes. Those who were seated at their normal desks for the same amount of time burned 72 calories per hour.
The authors calculate that if obese employees used the vertical workstation for several hours each day, they could boost their energy expenditure by 100 calories per hour. That could translate to 20 to 30 kilograms (44 to 66 pounds), researchers say.
According to the study's authors, study participants found the equipment easy to use and were able to work normally, to the extent that they wanted to continue using it after the study was finished.