From one treadmill to another

Height-adjustable desks that allow staff to work standing up are considered fairly radical in Australia. Treadmills on which they can walk and work: beyond the pale. For now.

Evidence that sitting for prolonged periods of time is bad for your health is mounting. It has now been linked to premature death, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and some cancers.

Organisations such as Melbourne's Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute and the cancer prevention centre at the University of Queensland are encouraging employers to ''explore opportunities to reduce sitting in the workplace''.

James Levine from the Mayo Clinic in the US has been touting treadmill desks as a solution.

According to research from the clinic, strolling for part of the day at a sedate 2 km/h while typing or talking on the phone increases productivity, improves markers of health and "overweight office workers who replace sitting computer time with walking computer time by two to three hours a day could lose 20 to 30 kilograms in a year''.

You would be hard-pressed, however, to find more than a handful of treadmill desks in Australian workplaces, according to Steelcase, a US-based company that sells a treadmill desk designed by Dr Levine.

''A treadmill desk may be just too radical,'' said Mitch Farrell, a business unit manager with Linak, a Denmark-based company that makes electronic components for both sit-to-stand desks and treadmill desks.

''From the first day you walk into kindergarten, you sit down, until you walk out of university.''