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Work. 2011;40(4):473-7. doi: 10.3233/WOR-2011-1258.

Productivity of transcriptionists using a treadmill desk.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.



Time spent sitting increases all-cause mortality. Sedentary occupations are a major contributor to the obesity epidemic. A treadmill desk offers the potential to increase activity while working; however, it is important to make sure that productivity does not decline. The purpose of this study is to evaluate productivity while using a treadmill desk.


Eleven experienced medical transcriptionists participated in the study.


Transcriptionists were given 4 hours training in the use of a treadmill desk. They were asked to transcribe tapes for 8 hours both while sitting and while using the treadmill desk. Speed and accuracy of transcription were compared as were the average expended calories per hour.


The accuracy of transcription did not differ between sitting and walking transcriptions. The speed of transcription was 16% slower while walking than while sitting (p < 0.001). The transcriptionists expended 100 calories per hour more when they transcribed while walking than when they transcribed while sitting (p < 0.001).


The treadmill desk offers a way to reduce sedentariness in the workplace and has potential to reduce employee obesity and health care costs. However, more than 4 hours of training will be necessary to prevent a significant drop in employee productivity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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