Monday, July 09, 2007


Office Workout Machine Revisited

Here we revisit the "vertical work station" developed by researchers at Mayo Clinic. Although the intentions of the device are good, it is most amusing to see such a potent symbol of mindless and incessant wage slavery revived as a cure for the ills of the wage slave. The image of a treadmill with a hapless serf trapped inside, huffing and puffing to keep up, has been with us since the dawn of the industrial age. As it happens, most wage slaves these days are sedentary. Indeed, according to researchers, "more than half of the workforce will sit at computers by 2010." Concerned scientists, devoid of a sense of irony for all their benevolence, have returned the treadmill to the workplace as an exercise device. Workers typing on the run, so to speak, might burn as many as 100 to 150 calories an hour and possibly drop as many as 50 pounds a year. The Mayo Clinic model is only one of many designed along the same idea. A spokesman for the project "estimates that 1,000 U.S. workers have built their own treadmill desks since the 'vertical work station' idea appeared on Good Morning America two years ago." Perhaps those folks didn't have a sense of irony either.

Skeptics claim that workers can get as much exercise by taking 20 minutes hikes at lunch. Nonetheless, workstation designer Dr. James Levine says that "in today's workplace, many employees never get to leave their cubicles. [My] thought: If they can't get to exercise, bring the exercise to them." The author of the CNN piece below apparently conducted his interview while treading alongside the inventor, and claims he developed a "Zen-like" sense of calm after 10 minutes of being lashed to the machine. Who'd a thunk it? A symbol of the rat race yielding Buddhistic bliss.

The online science magazine Discover lambasted the original BBC article about the work station as the "worst science article of the week", and numerous bloggers have found the device ridiculous. I was pleased to learn that there is still a sense of irony out there somewhere.

"Connecting treadmills to your computer" from The Arizona Republic
"Worst Science Article of the Week" from Discover
"A workout for your mind... and body!" from
"Doc Creates Walking Desk To Stay Fit" from WBALTV (Baltimore)

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