cognitive control, treadmill, work, conflict adaptation, conflict, exercise


An increasing trend in the workplace is for employees to walk on treadmills while working to attain known health benefits; however, the effect of walking on a treadmill during cognitive control and executive function tasks is not well known. We compared the cognitive control processes of conflict adaptation (i.e., congruency sequence effects—improved performance following high-conflict relative to low-conflict trials), post-error slowing (i.e., Rabbitt effect), and response inhibition during treadmill walking (1.5 mph) relative to sitting. Understanding the influence of treadmill desks on these cognitive processes may have implications for worker health and productivity. Sixty-nine individuals were randomized to either a sitting (n = 35) or treadmill-walking condition (n = 34). Groups did not differ in age or body mass index. All participants completed a computerized Eriksen flanker task and a response-inhibition go/no-go task in random order while either walking on a treadmill or seated. Response times (RTs) and accuracy were analyzed separately for each task using mixed model analysis of variance. Separate ANOVAs for RTs and accuracy showed the expected conflict adaptation effects, post-error slowing, and response inhibition effects when collapsed across sitting and treadmill groups (all Fs > 78.77, Ps < 0.001). There were no main effects or interactions as a function of group for any analyses (Fs < 0.79, Ps > 0.38), suggesting no decrements or enhancements in conflict-related control and adjustment processes or response inhibition for those walking on a treadmill versus sitting. We conclude that cognitive control performance remains relatively unaffected during slow treadmill walking relative to sitting.

Original Publication Citation

Larson MJ, LeCheminant JD, Carbine K, Hill KR, Christenson E, Masterson T and LeCheminant R (2015) Slow walking on a treadmill desk does not negatively affect executive abilities: an examination of cognitive control, conflict adaptation, response inhibition, and post-error slowing. Front. Psychol. 6:723. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00723

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Peer-Reviewed Article

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Life Sciences


Exercise Sciences