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Have you ever used the job as a reason not to go to the gym? Well, it may soon be time to think of a new excuse.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst claim that employees may be able to get benefits on the exercise using a "platform" without affecting their productivity.

The researchers found that insulin levels after a test meal were lower when workers used the pedal board – a desk with bicycle-like pedals – compared to those sitting at a standard desk, while working efficiency remained the same same.

The pilot study, conducted by Dr. Stuart Chipkin at the UMass Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences, was published in October in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

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Pedal offices "may have the potential to achieve public health and occupational goals in sedentary work environments," Chipkin and colleagues said in a statement.

Studies have shown that exercise improves insulin sensitivity. "The novelty of this study was the ability to improve the response to insulin following a meal using an instrument (pedal) that allows you to exert light intensity during the execution of tasks of standard work, and the pedals did not hinder the conduct of these work tasks, "Chipkin said in an e-mail.

Chipkin is an endocrinologist who studies the effect of physical activity and drugs on insulin sensitivity and skeletal muscle metabolism.

The researchers recruited 12 full-time overweight / obese sedentary workers and tested them under two conditions: pedaling at "self-selected light rhythm" for two hours and working for two hours while sitting in a conventional desk, the researchers said. Six of the participants were men and the other six were women.

Participants were asked to perform computer-based activities. They were tested on mouse mastery, typing speed and accuracy, reading comprehension and concentration / attention, the researchers said.

Participants provided blood samples after eating a light meal. The results revealed that active workers using the pedal board required less insulin to maintain blood sugar levels than those using the standard desk.

Physical inactivity has been linked to higher rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease through insulin resistance and other mechanisms, the researchers said.

The study emerged after the researchers realized that the current alternatives for standard desks – standing desks and treadmills – are not ideal for full-time shifts. They said that the alternatives could also have some drawbacks, like staying too long.

"On the contrary, a pedal board can be used in a sitting position at will as long as the worker chooses or not," the researchers said in the statement.

In the future, Chipkin said he intends to explore the way in which pedals affect people with diabetes.

Lucas Carr, an associate professor in the Department of Human Health and Physiology at the University of Iowa, said it was important to redesign work spaces to enable people to be more active.

"We know that the exercise works, if people do it," Carr said in a telephone interview. "The trick of all this is figuring out how to get people to do it in the long run, which is why I like pedal machines, it's a very sustainable approach."

Carr conducted his study on the pedal board in 2015. This found that the workers who pedaled the most were more likely to report weight loss, showed greater concentration at work and had fewer sick days than those who pedaled less.

"The best approach is what someone will use," said Carr. "So there are many different options and it would be smart for employers to work with individual employees to figure out which is the best approach for them."

Katie Camero can be reached on katie.camero@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @camerokt_.

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