David Zoll loves his job. The only problem is it was killing him.
While rushing through the streets of Manhattan on Oct. 7, 2011, the then 59-year-old lawyer was out of breath and had a tightness in his chest. Stopping in a restaurant, he brushed the feeling off and continued his business trip.
Upon returning to the Toledo area a few days later, the founding partner of Zoll, Kranz & Borgess discovered he had suffered a heart attack and was rushed to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center for a quadruple bypass.
Mr. Zoll, now 60, worried that might be the end of his career. But after discovering treadmill desks, Mr. Zoll said he found a way to work on his health while extending his working life.
"In my job, you're either sitting at your desk all day in a relatively tense situation, or you're running through an airport," he said. "There is no in between. The main advantage of the treadmill is to break your day up."
A variety of companies produce treadmill desks, but Mr. Zoll opted for one from LifeSpan, a Salt Lake City company. He said it fit his needs the best. The desk is large enough -- about three feet by three feet -- to accommodate his paperwork and his computer. Desks range in price from about $400 to more than $1,000.
"The last six months have broadened our idea of the treadmill desk's appeal," President of LifeSpan Peter Schenk said in a statement. "They're for individuals like David, who use them to help with recovery, and prevention. They're for companies who purchase a few shared units for a common space, like a conference room, to showcase their culture and attract employees who value staying active."
Some users spend much of their working day on the treadmill. But the manufacturers emphasize that the machines are designed for walking, not running, because faster speeds make doing work impractical.
Mr. Zoll uses the treadmill desk for about an hour every day after lunch in addition to rehabilitation three days each week. Sometimes he does more -- it depends on the day.
"It's going to extend my work life at the office," said Mr. Zoll, noting that exercise is now a mandatory part of his life. "If I can't do it while I'm working, I think I would have to retire.
"This helps me put in a full day while still hitting the targets I need to hit."
Although Mr. Zoll was not overweight, the stress of his job had taken its toll on his heart. Now, he hopes it'll keep him practicing law for years to come.
Sitting for extended periods of time increases a person's risk of developing diseases later in life, said Dr. Michael Omori, an emergency room physician at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center. Heart disease is especially prevalent in people who lack physical activity in their lives, he said.
Any way to squeeze in physical activity could tack years on to a person's life, Dr. Omori said.
"A lot of people will avoid any sort of exercise program because of the time commitment involved," he said. "If they get sold on that time into their work day, it sounds like a great concept."
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