While the benefits of things like standing desks have been well-documented, for most people, the two realms of work and exercise still remain deliberately separated. Though many people might duck out for a run or a short workout during their lunch break, the prospect of breaking a sweat while still stuck in the office might be a bit foreign to many people.
But according to many studies, working from a stationary bike may actually help improve your productivity.
Schools, universities and offices across the country are slowly getting in on the fad of encouraging light exercise while working. They’re finding that not only are there notable increases in work efficiency, but that exercising while working helps to heighten the feelings of well-being within participants.
In Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canadian elementary schools have been installing small stationary bikes to help harness the restless energy of young students who get overly anxious in class for three years now. According to Luke McDonald, a fitness club owner who helped start the stationary bike trend within the schools, by teaching students to respond to stress with exercise they aren’t just improving emotional health but setting healthy habits for the future.
“When that kid transfers that information home, and they run on the spot or they do jumping jacks when they start feeling stressed, that’s self-regulation,” McDonald told Global News this week. “And that can change the trajectory of a five-year-old kid for the rest of their life.”
Those positive vibes extend beyond elementary schools. In 2013, Clemson University in South Carolina installed a slew of $300 FitDesk stationary bikes throughout the campus to study the effects they had on students. The results were more wide-ranging than any of the scientists involved in the studies expected.
“I think there’s a little resistance to moving while you work,” Dr. June Pilcher, a psychologist at Clemson told the Library Journal. “There’s an idea that you either exercise or you study and think, and that’s the thing I want to study. I want to help people see that we can study and work while moving at a slow pace.”
In her study, Pilcher found that not only did feelings of well-being increase on the stationary bike desks, but students reported experiencing more stable sleep while using the desks, an unexpected result of the study.
“We’ve generated more questions than we’ve answered,” Pilcher told Inside Higher Ed. “We’re still figuring out what to measure. I think there is something positive happening, but it’s very subtle.”
In elementary schools, the students aren’t as hung up on the results of scientific testing. To them, the answer is much more simplistic.
“I go on the bike when I’m feeling a little bit sad,” a five-year-old at the Ian Forsyth Elementary School in Nova Scotia told Global News. “It makes me feel happy.”
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