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Computer task performance at cycling and walking workstations

Researchers

Professor Leon Straker, Dr Amity Campbell, Dr Jim Levine (Mayo Clinic, USA)

Description

Insufficient physical activity is a major preventable health threat linked with many major diseases. Most interventions to enhance physical activity have targeted exercise in leisure time. However occupational tasks also provide an opportunity. An increasing proportion of the workforce has sedentary jobs focussed on computer interaction. Recent studies have found that replacing seated computer work with slow walking computer work for 2-3 hours a day would result in 20kg weight loss over a year and stem the tide of adult obesity. However there have been concerns raised concerning the possible impact of this on productivity. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of cycling and walking workstations on keyboard and mouse use.

Findings

30 office workers (16 females, 15 touch typist) completed standardised typing and mouse use tasks in 6 conditions: sitting on office chair, standing, cycling (5 and 30 watts) and walking (1.6 and 3.2 kpm). Heart rate and perceived exertion were greater in the active conditions. Computer task performance was lower in the walking condition and slightly lower in the cycling condition. Standing performance was the same as sitting. Mouse performance suffered more than keyboard performance. The performance decrements were the same for both genders and for touch and non-touch typists. For many computer users the long term health (and thus productivity) benefits are likely to outweigh the small short term task performance costs.

Funding

Curtin University Internal Research Grant

Publications

Scholarly Journal – Refereed Article

Straker L., Levine J., & Campbell A. (2010)
The effects of walking and cycling computer workstations on keyboard and mouse performance. Human Factors 51(6): 831-44.