A “NEAT” Approach to Obesity Prevention in the Modern Work Environment

Samar Malaeb, Claudio Esteban Perez-Leighton, Emily E. Noble, Charles J Billington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Increased prevalence of obesity may be due to an increase of being sedentary at work. Increasing non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) using walking workstations may increase total physical activity and promote a leaner physical body composition (or phenotype). The purpose of this study was to test whether walking slowly during work was sufficient to promote a leaner phenotype by increasing physical activity in sedentary desk workers without inducing compensation or a decrease in activity or energy expenditure during the nonworking hours. We conducted a prospective cohort study using a within-subjects crossover design. The design involved two phases each lasting 2 weeks: a treadmill exercise phase in which subjects used a walking workstation for 2.5 hours a day 5 days/week and a control phase in which subjects maintained their normal work activity. Twenty-five sedentary adults working at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System. We measured body weight, body composition, food intake, 24-hour physical activity, and self-reported physical activity with the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ). Treadmill exercise caused a leaner phenotype (lean mass gain and fat mass loss) and significantly increased their 24-hour physical activity. Walking workstation use had favorable effects on physical well-being and mental focus and did not adversely affect productivity. Light treadmill exercise during work can increase physical activity and result in a leaner body composition. This is a potentially useful intervention to increase NEAT in the modern sedentary work environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-110
Number of pages9
JournalWorkplace Health and Safety
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019


  • chronic illnesses
  • disease prevention
  • health education
  • health promotion
  • occupational health and safety programs
  • work
  • workforce

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Journal Article

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