Office of the Future: Walk While Working

"We only look at a change in posture as a good way of adding energy. Why not stand up and do this? Or a 30-minute conference call, do it from a walkstation," Bailey said.

Growing Trend?

Four walkstations are currently in use at Wal-Mart's corporate offices in Bentonville, Ark., and at Salo, a financial outsourcing firm in Minneapolis, according to Bud Klipa, president of Details, a Steelcase company. Hundreds of walkstations have already been reserved for customers, including some Fortune 500 companies.

The walkstations are also extending into some schools. Traditional school desks are removed from classrooms; kids are then free to sit on the floor with their laptops, stand or move around as they're listening to their teachers.

Student behaviors in those schools improved substantially, according to Levine.

The response from the scientific community the walkstations has been largely positive.

"Often in science when you come up with ideas that are offbeat, the standard response of many scientists is very skeptical. Sometimes it's unhelpful because it makes people think scientists argue all the time," said George Brooks, a professor in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of California at Berkeley. "When I sent an e-mail to NIH[National Institutes of Health] [about the whole project], no scientist was opposed to it. They said, "How can we be involved?' It's fantastic. It's been incredible, quite amazing."

Brooks believes that the walkstations are an important step in the fight against obesity.

"Physical activity is gone from our jobs, as a consequence people are overweight, diabetic, and it's even leading to some forms of cancer. We need to be active at least one hour a day," he said. "[The walkstations are] a revolutionary step in terms of putting physical activity in the workplace in a way people are still effective at their jobs."

Brooks insists that investing in workplace fitness has great benefits for employers, despite financial costs.

"If organizations try to implement it, we'll see if people will do it. I think people will resist it mightily," he said. "But people who will do it will be healthier, more effective, and happier."

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