Desk 'treadmill' might keep the pounds off - even when you're sitting down

A small elliptical device that allows a user to "pedal" while sitting down may be able to prevent weight gain, according to researchers at Penn State College of Medicine.

The small device can be used while you're sitting at your desk, on the couch, or other areas that tend to be sedentary zones. Combining this low-intensity physical activity with behaviors that typically don't involve movement could help people break past the barrier that prevents them from exercising regularly, the researchers said.

"Adults in the United States spend more than 11 hours per day sitting while doing things like watching television and working on a computer," said Liza Rovniak, assistant professor of medicine and public health sciences. "Evidence suggests that this sedentary lifestyle has contributed to average weight gains of one to two pounds per year among U.S. adults over the last 20 years."

Prevent the annual pudge

Researchers recruited 32 participants for the study who used the elliptical device while sitting in a standard office chair. The subjects were monitored for energy use, heart rate and other factors.

Results showed that 86 percent of the participants could expend enough energy in one hour per day to prevent weight gain. Furthermore, the other 14 percent could have achieved the same result if they had increased their pedaling pace slightly, the researchers said.

"Assuming participants held other components of energy balance constant, daily use of the elliptical device for one hour might result in a weight loss of 5.2 pounds per year and help prevent the one-to-two pound annual weight gain among U.S. adults," Rovniak said.

More information about the study can be found in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.

Source: Penn State

Image via Penn State

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