Campus News

November 22, 2013 at 11:17 am

Arcadia Faculty and Staff Stand, Walk, Even Pedal at Their Desks

Graphic Designer Dan Brumbach built a standing desk.

Dan Brumbach built a standing desk for his space in the University Communications office.


Winston Churchill famously—and playfully—said “Never stand when you can sit down” in response to a journalist’s question about what made the prime minister so successful. Lately, though, faculty members and staff at Arcadia University are turning Churchill’s philosophy on its head.

Dr. Kathleen Mangione, professor of Physical Therapy, rejected her desk chair two and a half years ago and started the trend of treadmill desks on campus. By switching up her work environment, Mangione, along with others, aims to avoid the common bane of sedentary work spaces and create a healthier environment. Although a recommended pace is one mile per hour, she has a long stride, walking at two miles per hour.

“It’s easier than people expect,” said Dr. Mangione, suggesting a slow pace to start. “It takes 10 to 15 minutes to focus, to really get it. You won’t know its impact in one minute of use.”

Similarly, Professor and Department Chair of Physical Therapy Dr. Rebecca Craik has experienced no difficulty reading and writing in her unorthodox work space. She has had a treadmill desk since last Christmas and, though she considers herself a novice user, has noticed the benefits.

“I feel more alert,” Dr. Craik said. “I’m able to focus during and after use.”

Dr. Craik believes using a treadmill desk presents an opportunity to support the health of the mind and body. However, this is not the only way members of the Arcadia community are getting out of their chairs.

Dr. Jonathan Church, associate professor and director of Cultural Anthropology, has used a standing desk on and off for years due to a nagging bad back.

“I saw a physical therapist a number of years ago who suggested standing to relieve the pain,” he said. “Now I’m not stiff having to get up and walk to class.”

University Communications Graphic Designer Daniel Brumbach, who also experiences back pain, built a standing desk of his own.

“I got everything at Lowe’s for about $100,” said Brumbach. “I thought about where I wanted my elbows to rest, if I wanted to look up or down at my screen, and the distance of the walls from the desk.”

His craftsmanship paid off. In addition to a more comfortable back, he has received encouraging responses.

“When people walk by and see it for the first time they’re like, ‘Whoa, what is this’,” said Brumbach, who even made an accompanying wooden iPhone stand. “Everyone is interested in it.”

Standing desks and treadmill desks are not suitable for every work environment. Therefore, Noreen Harrington-Kelly, receptionist in the Physical Therapy department, had to find another solution. Under her desk, she operates a pedal exerciser.

“I used to leave here feeling stiff,” said Harrington-Kelly. “Now when I get home I’m not stiff and I feel more energetic.”


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