If you’ve been bugging your boss for a treadmill desk — because you know, of course, that sitting is killing us — here’s a vital piece of information to add to your arsenal. It isn’t just an investment in your health, but an investment in your brainpower.
People who use the walking workstations see a significant boost in memory recall, even after having used them at a relatively relaxed pace for a short length of time. That’s according to a study published in the latest edition of the journal Computers in Human Behavior.
The Montreal-based researchers had one group of students perform a reading exercise on a treadmill desk for 40 minutes, walking at about 1.5 miles per hour, while a control group did the same exercise sitting down. Ten minutes after the walk, they were hit with dozens of questions about the reading, while an EEG machine monitored their brains for patterns related to attention and memory recall.
“We found that the odds of answering a question correctly were 34.9% higher in the walking group,” the researchers said — while the EEG showed significantly more “alpha” waves in the walkers’ brains. Their conclusion? “We found an effect of the treadmill desk on brain activity that is associated with increased memory and attentional abilities.”
As ever with the science of how we interact with very new technology, the researchers caution that more study is needed. But there have already been a surprising number of treadmill desk experiments — including one that found the ideal speed for typing on a treadmill desk. (It’s about 1.3 miles per hour, or a lot slower than you might think.)
In any case, it should come as no surprise that walking is as good for the brain as it is for the body; scientists have known for years that it reduces the risk of mental and physical disease. What does often surprise treadmill desk newbies is the fact that you can actually combine walking, reading and writing with relative ease. (Read our review of the LifeSpan DT-5 treadmill desk here.)
They’re still something of a luxury item, running at more than $1,200 apiece. But if you can afford just one, and have multiple employees sign up for it, a treadmill desk could be worth your brain’s weight in gold for your company. Read more…