Cycle while you work is the motto at Deutsche Telekom when it comes to improving employee health. Since mid-November, the company has provided employees at its new Group campus in Hamburg and at its Service Headquarters in Bonn with a total of 220 Deskbikes. These innovative replacements for the conventional office chair are reminiscent of exercise bikes and enable employees to pedal their way to fitness while working at their desks.
Germans spend too much time sitting: according to a report carried out in 2015 by Deutsche Krankenversicherung, one of the country’s major private health insurers, they spend an average of seven and one half hours a day in a sedentary position. This inactivity often leads to cardiovascular problems, diabetes, overweight and, in particular, musculoskeletal disorders – which also happen to be one of the main causes of illness-related absences at Deutsche Telekom. To counteract this trend, the company has launched a campaign for more exercise in the workplace.
During the six-week pilot, 60 employees in Cologne tested a variety of mobile exercise equipment. It was the Deskbike that impressed them most, with reactions ranging from “It’s fun” and “You feel good – and healthy” to “Bring it on!” However, Deutsche Telekom did not rely solely on user feedback. In parallel with the pilot phase, the company commissioned a joint study from Berufsgenossenschaft Verkehr (the occupational accident insurer of the transportation industry), the Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of German Social Accident Insurance (IFA) and the German Sport University Cologne. The academics examined not only the test persons’ levels of acceptance and whether they felt good using the equipment, but also physiological activity parameters, energy conversion levels and individual posture.
More exercise, better performance
The conclusion was that the users not only had fun pedaling, but that it heightened their mental activity. To achieve these results, the test persons certainly did not have to pedal all day: according to the experts, 15 to 20 minutes at a stretch, two to three times a day, is the ideal amount. Another positive side effect is that the employees burned more calories when cycling than when just sitting. “The results convinced us,” says Dr. Anne-Katrin Krempien, Head of Health & Safety Management at Deutsche Telekom. “The Deskbikes in Hamburg and Bonn are just the beginning. Starting 2017, we want to make the equipment available to employees at further Deutsche Telekom sites in Germany and abroad.”
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