Friday, Dec. 10, 2010
FORGET WHISTLING -- THIS PROFESSOR WALKS WHILE WORKING
MANHATTAN -- Eight hours hunkered over her work in Justin Hall. Two hours commuting from her home outside Council Grove. Deb Sellers had become a master at sitting, and she did not like it one bit.
Sellers is an assistant professor of family studies and human services and extension specialist in adult development and aging at Kansas State University. She knows the problem of too much sitting. She also knows one solution.
If you pass her office today, you may hear light footsteps. Sellers is hard at work…and walking.
She and husband, Mark, designed and built a standing desk around a treadmill. They left off the traditional rails; the monitor, telling the assistant professor how far and fast she is walking, sits in a custom-built stand atop the desk.
"I noticed in the four years I have been at K-State my physical activity had decreased," Sellers said. Previously she was in the field, serving elders in acute care hospitals, long-term care facilities, retirement communities and government agencies.
Doctors at the Mayo Clinic invented a treadmill desk, she said. She asked her husband, a commercial woodworker, to make one for her. He measured heights and widths and then constructed a mock-up out of cardboard.
Sellers used it to ensure that the height worked and that she could integrate physical movement with work. She could. The desk worked.
Mark Sellers then built the desk from wood and laminate. The two hauled it to Sellers' office on the third floor of Justin. She transferred her second computer screen to the new desk.
The empathetic professor checked the noise level. She didn't want her walking to interfere with work in nearby offices. No problem, reported her co-workers next door.
Next she checked the energy use. She didn't want her treadmill shocking the electric bill. No problem: a treadmill uses about the same amount of electricity as a mini-fridge, which is commonplace in offices.
Today Sellers tries to walk -- at the pace of 1 mile an hour -- at least an hour a day, taking care of e-mail and keeping up with her profession. Her wireless keyboard and mouse make that possible, she said.
She feels better, she said. "But I wouldn't try to write a journal article while I was walking."