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September 18, 2008

BehindTheMedspeak: On the road to nowhere is the only place to be


Mandy Katz's story in today's New York Times finally tears down the wall separating the world of the treadmill workspace from the rest of the planet.

All credit to Ms. Katz for bringing my private pleasure to the readers of the Gray Lady.

And don't forget a shout-out to Andrew Shurtleff, whose photo (top) accompanies the Times story, which follows.

    I Put In 5 Miles at the Office

    Terri Krivosha, a partner at a Minneapolis law firm, logs three miles each workday on a treadmill without leaving her desk. She finds it easier to exercise while she types than to attend aerobics classes at the crack of dawn.

    Brad Rhoads, a computer programmer and missionary in Princeton, Ill., faces a computer monitor on a file cabinet and gets in about five miles a day on a treadmill while working in his home office.

    "After a while, your legs do get kind of tired," said Mr. Rhoads, 40, who started exercising in March, when doctors advised him to lose weight after open-heart surgery.

    Ms. Krivosha and Mr. Rhoads are part of a small but growing group of desk jockeys who were inspired by Dr. James Levine, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic. In 2005, Dr. Levine led a study showing that lean people burn about 350 more calories a day than those who are overweight, by doing ordinary things like fidgeting, pacing or walking to the copier.

    To incorporate extra movement into the routines of sedentary workers (himself included), Dr. Levine constructed the first known treadmill desk by sliding a bedside hospital tray over a $400 treadmill. With a laptop and a phone headset, he said he can go all day at a leisurely 1.4 miles an hour.

    Without breaking a sweat, the so-called work-walker can burn an estimated 100 to 130 calories an hour at speeds slower than two miles an hour, Mayo research shows.

    Enthusiasts began following Dr. Levine'™s example, constructing treadmill desks that range from sleekly robotic set-ups to rickety mash-ups that could be Wall-E's long-lost kin. But the recent introduction of an all-in-one treadmill desk from Details may inch work-walking into the mainstream, as dozens of businesses invest in the hardware to let their employees walk (and, ideally, lose a little weight) at work.

    Since last November, about 335 Walkstations, have been sold nationwide to companies including Humana, Mutual of Omaha, GlaxoSmithKline and Best Buy.

    The Walkstation, which Dr. Levine helped develop, costs about $4,000 and comes in 36 laminate finishes with an ergonomically curved desktop. Its quiet motor is designed for slow speeds, said David Kagan, director of marketing communications at Details, a division of Steelcase.

    Still, to most, work-walking is "œa freaky thing to do," said Joe Stirt, 60, an anesthesiologist in Charlottesville, Va., who works and blogs in his off hours while walking up to six hours a day in his home office.

    Mr. Stirt'™s site, www.bookofjoe.com/2007/10/treadmill-works.html, is one of some dozen work-walking blogs, including www.treadmill-desk.com and treadmill-workstation.com.

    "œI know lots of people who are using them," Dr. Stirt said of the treadmill desks. But there are probably a hundred times more who we don'™t read about on the Internet."

    There is even a burgeoning social network (officewalkers.ning.com), with around 30 members, that Mr. Rhoads started in March.

    To the uninitiated, work-walking sounds like a recipe for distraction. But devotees say the treadmill desks increase not only their activity but also their concentration.

    "œI thought it was ridiculous until I tried it," said Ms. Krivosha, 49, a partner in the law firm of Maslon Edelman Borman & Brand.

    Ms. Krivosha said it is tempting to become distracted during conference calls, but when she is exercising, she listens more intently.

    "Walking just takes care of the A.D.D. part," she said.

    Still, work-walking can require crafty maneuvering. When colleagues drop in on Bruce Langer, another work-walker, he pivots, then keeps striding backward while facing them.

    "œIt's more polite and, from a workout standpoint, it works different muscles," said Mr. Langer, a vice president of Tealwood Asset Management in Minneapolis.

    In 2005, Salo, a professional placement firm in Minneapolis, contacted Dr. Levine after fashioning its first treadmill unit. (Employees called the cobbled-together unit "the Frankendesk.") By 2007, Salo had become a test site for early Walkstation models and now has 16.

    At Mutual of Omaha's 150-person call center in Omaha, four Walkstations have been in use since July as part of a small company study to figure out whether work-walking could maintain productivity while reducing employees'™ cholesterol, weight and blood-sugar levels. Sixteen subjects of different ages, weights and fitness levels work-walk two hours a day, said Peggy Rivedal, the manager of employee health services. A similarly diverse control group works the old-fashioned way.

    After leaving the military two years ago, Kirk Hurley, 40, a customer service representative at Mutual of Omaha, gained 75 pounds. In two months of work-walking two hours a day, he has lost 16 pounds.

    "You don'™t really feel the physical strain on your body because your mind's occupied with your work," he said.

    Treadmill desks will not likely replace the sit-down kind any time soon. In corporate settings, they are usually in open areas where employees can just jump on. At a few firms, including Salo, they have replaced conference tables.

    Some business colleagues arrive at meetings with walking shoes in hand, said Amy Langer, a Salo founder (and Mr. Langer's wife).

    But not every employee has the enthusiasm to keep work-walking day after day. Take the trial Walkstation at Humana, a health insurer in Louisville, Ky.

    After a year on site, the treadmill is in use about 60 percent of the workday, mostly for conference calls, said Grant Harrison, the vice president of consumer innovation. Many workers, he said, may "œtry it out, but they don'™t make it a part of their daily life."

    Nor does everyone have the coordination to walk and work, said Andrew Wood, the director of ergonomics and corporate services for Muve, a weight-management consultancy affiliated with the Mayo Clinic.

    "œIf you can't walk and chew gum at the same time, this may not be the workstation for you," Mr. Wood said. But it should be a piece of cake for most people, he added.

    James O. Hill, an obesity researcher and the director of the University of Colorado'™s Center for Human Nutrition in Denver, shares this opinion: "There are not very many people who can'™t walk," he said. "You should have a doctor's note to not walk."

    Will work-walking free you from the gym forever? Not if you'™re seeking serious weight loss or peak cardio-respiratory fitness. "Walking on the treadmill could be enough to prevent weight gain, but it's not going to melt the pounds off," Dr. Hill said.

    Still, something is better than nothing, say workwalkers like Mr. Rhoads.

    "At least a little bit of exercise will just be part of my day and part of my working," he said. "The one thing I always do is work."

September 18, 2008 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

What do you see?


a. Denizen of Loserville

b. "Where's Waldo?" with Bogo Light

c. Person with uncontrolled styrophilia

d. Losing entry in Apartment Therapy's Small Cool 2008 contest

f. Some of the above (you just aren't sure which)

e. None of the above

g. All of the above

Answer here in one hour.

September 18, 2008 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Scott Wade's Dirty Car Art (G-Rated)

So don't get your baggies in a twist, all right?

From the website:

"Like any reasonably creative and curious human, Scott can't resist a dirty rear car window. We suspect that Scott started off with clever sayings, like 'wash me.' Probably his first image was the ubiquitous smiley face. Unlike most folks, however, Scott lives on a mile and a half of dirt road ... a blend of limestone dust and gravel and clay. Driving over this surface results in a fine white dust that billows up behind any vehicle driven faster than a galloping turtle, coating the rear window. Being an experienced artist (and let's face it, a little ... different), it wasn't long before Scott began experimenting with techniques to achieve these amazingly detailed and shaded drawings."

[via Milena]

September 18, 2008 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Vibrating Hand-held Peeler


If it's good enough for Gillette it ought to be plenty good enough for your potatoes.

From the website:

    Leifheit Swingo Power Peeler

    Cuts, peels and garnishes with minimum waste.

    With a swinging head and an ergonomically engineered grip for comfort, the Swingo Power Peeler permits precise peeling.

    Includes straight blade, serrated blade, protective blade covers, potato eye feature and 2 AA batteries.



$19.99 (potatoes not included).

September 18, 2008 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A Pause — by James Richardson

That little brown bird visiting
one corner of the meadow, then another,
for a wrapper, a twig, some fuzz-color,
is unerring, it seems, though maybe,
the world so various, so much of it dangling,
there's not much possibility of error,
and any looping out and returning
tightens, by nature, into a nest.
What is it about wonder,
strong weakness, will to be surprised,
that where there is no home, lets us live,
and just when we forget how, flies?

September 18, 2008 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Alphabet Paperclips




Lettered paperclips can be used to file
documents alphabetically or linked to form




[via Milena]

September 18, 2008 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack



Right here.

While we're on the subject of words, here's a FunFact: the word "misspelled" is frequently misspelled.

From "Follow these rules to aid publication": "Check the spelling. When a submission is sprinkled with mispelled words, I think the writer doesn't care about his work. If the writer doesn't care, why should I?"

You could look it up.

[via Milena]

September 18, 2008 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Shine — by Willie Cole


His 2007 masklike head is made of more than a dozen women's high-heeled shoes and is currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, part of the show "Provocative Visions: Race and Identity — Selections from the Permanent Collection," up through March 8, 2009.

September 18, 2008 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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