The Hidden Benefits of Treadmill Desks for those with ADHD, Anxiety or Autism

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A treadmill desk is a great choice for those who work in an office — it can help you stay fit and healthy by burning extra calories and boosting your fitness levels while you work. But did you know that treadmill desks may be especially good for those with anxiety, memory problems, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)? Here are some of the ways that a treadmill desk provides additional benefits if you have any of these conditions:

Using a Treadmill Desk Helps Boost Memory & Recall

Studies have shown that people who exercise regularly can recall information better than those who don't. This is because exercise increases blood flow throughout the body, which improves cognition and memory.

The hippocampus is a part of the brain that is important for memory, learning, and spatial navigation. It contains neurons that are necessary for forming new memories.

Walking at the same pace that your brain is processing information helps increase blood flow to the hippocampus and other key parts of your brain. This increased blood flow helps your neurons to fire more quickly and efficiently—increasing their ability to form new memories and recall information more quickly and accurately.

A Treadmill Desk Can Reduce Stress

For those suffering from anxiety, a treadmill desk can be a godsend in helping to manage symptoms.

A study published in the Journal of Psychoneuroendocrinology found that participants who walked on treadmills for 30 minutes had lower levels of cortisol compared to those who sat at desks or moved less during the same period. Cortisol is often referred to as “the stress hormone” because it's released when we feel threatened or under pressure. It's what makes us tense up when there's something scary happening around us—say, if someone screams behind us while we're walking alone down an alleyway late at night! 

Lower levels of cortisol = lessened feelings of stress and anxiety, allowing for a more productive work day.

Treadmill Desks Can Improve Your Mood

In addition to reducing stress, treadmill desks have further anti-anxiety benefits by boosting the user’s mood. This is because exercise increases your serotonin levels, which in turn alleviates feelings of depression and anxiety.

Scientists have performed numerous studies in recent years to further understand this phenomenon. What they’ve repeatedly found is that regular aerobic exercise increases serotonergic and noradrenergic levels in the brain - similar to those seen by patients taking antidepressants. Using a treadmill desk gives you the ability to feel this type of natural antidepressant any time of day - it may be exactly what you need to get you out of your funk.

Walking While You Work Improves Processing Time & Focus

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) causes difficulty in concentrating and staying focused. The symptoms of ADHD are often managed with medication and therapy sessions — but using a treadmill desk can help, too.

Treadmill desks can help those with ADHD stay focused by providing constant movement and preventing the brain from becoming bored. For someone with ADHD, boredom can cause them to become distracted easily, leading to problems focusing on tasks at hand. Treadmill desks provide your brain with the additional stimulation it needs to stay focused, versus sitting still in front of a computer screen while you work.

The reason is simple: you’re doing more than one thing at once. If you can force yourself to do two things at once—like walking while answering an email or taking notes—the neurological wiring in your brain allows sensory input to sustain focus for longer periods of time. This leads to an increase in focus, memory retention of tasks and projects (in other words: increased productivity), and better attention spans (you won’t get distracted as easily).

Walking Mimics Natural Movements

If you have autism and find it hard to sit still for long periods of time, a treadmill desk may help.

A study from the University of Illinois found that people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) were more focused on tasks when they were walking, rather than sitting down. After having participants complete tasks on a computer while either walking or sitting at their desks, they found that the participants who were walking performed better on their tests than those sitting still. 

The researchers suggested this is because treadmills mimic our natural movements—the way we walk throughout the day—making the action calming and relaxing. If your child has been diagnosed with ASD, consider getting him or her a treadmill desk so he or she can focus at school without feeling anxious about being in class all day long.

While there's no one-size-fits-all solution for managing ADHD, anxiety, or autism, a treadmill desk can be a great tool to help regulate or alleviate symptoms. While it's not for everyone, many benefits can make the investment worth considering.