Journal of Undergraduate Research


sedentary lifestyle, tredmill desks, cycling desks, cognitive performance


Family, Home, and Social Sciences




Sedentary lifestyle and obesity are growing concerns that are responsible for at least 300,000 premature deaths and $90 billion spent on health care per year in the United States (Manson et al., 2004). Many jobs today contribute to a sedentary lifestyle by requiring prolonged periods of sitting. Recent studies show that breaks in sedentary time results in less metabolic risk and a smaller waistline (Healy et al., 2011). Treadmill desks (desks that enable individuals to walk at a slow speed while working) along with cycling desks (workstations where individuals can cycle at a slow speed while working) have been shown to combat sedentariness and obesity through an increase in physical activity and weight loss (Koepp et al., 2013). While many studies have focused on the effects that treadmill desks can have on an individual’s overall health, few have included the concurrent effects on cognitive performance. In one study, neither response time nor accuracy tests of executive function were negatively affected during slow walking on a treadmill desk relative to sitting (Alderman et al., 2014). In contrast, several studies show that multitasking harms performance on both memory tasks and reading comprehension (Pool et al., 2003). Few studies have directly compared the effects of treadmill desks with those of cycling desks on cognitive performance. Our study aims to determine if there is a significant difference between treadmill and cycling desks by testing cognitive performance outcomes on randomized groups compared to baseline performance at a seated position. Increasing our understanding of how slow walking or cycling can affect cognitive performance has important implications for the integration of treadmill or cycling desks into the workplace and the possible effects on cognitive functioning. While they may offer various health benefits, our aims are to determine if treadmill and cycling desks impair performance and to clarify the specific health advantages. If we can understand how performance is influenced by simultaneous slow walking or cycling, then we can consider whether treadmill or cycling desks are generally helpful to a worker or not. By comparing cognitive function test results of an individual when seated with results when slow walking or cycling, our study is one step closer to determining if treadmill and/or cycling desks are beneficial to the workplace. The question of whether the health benefits from using a treadmill or cycling desk are worth the cognitive changes experienced while walking or cycling still needs to be answered.

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Psychology Commons