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Dinesh John, David Bassett, Dixie Thompson, Jeffrey Fairbrother and Debora Baldwin

Although using a treadmill workstation may change the sedentary nature of desk jobs, it is unknown if walking while working affects performance on office-work related tasks.

Purpose:

To assess differences between seated and walking conditions on motor skills and cognitive function tests.

Methods:

Eleven males (24.6 ± 3.5 y) and 9 females (27.0 ± 3.9 y) completed a test battery to assess selective attention and processing speed, typing speed, mouse clicking/drag-and-drop speed, and GRE math and reading comprehension. Testing was performed under seated and walking conditions on 2 separate days using a counterbalanced, within subjects design. Participants did not have an acclimation period before the walking condition.

Results:

Paired t tests (P < .05) revealed that in the seated condition, completion times were shorter for mouse clicking (26.6 ± 3.0 vs. 28.2 ± 2.5s) and drag-and-drop (40.3 ± 4.2 vs. 43.9 ± 2.5s) tests, typing speed was greater (40.2 ± 9.1 vs. 36.9 ± 10.2 adjusted words · min−1), and math scores were better (71.4 ± 15.2 vs. 64.3 ± 13.4%). There were no significant differences between conditions in selective attention and processing speed or in reading comprehension.

Conclusion:

Compared with the seated condition, treadmill walking caused a 6% to 11% decrease in measures of fine motor skills and math problem solving, but did not affect selective attention and processing speed or reading comprehension.