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Physicians on Treadmills Diagnose with Accuracy, Says Mayo Doc

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   July 25, 2013

"All businesses with sedentary workers should allow employees to use" treadmill desks, says a former Mayo Clinic CEO and enthusiastic advocate for walking while working. Healthcare providers are no exception.

James Levine, MD

When Mayo Clinic endocrinologist James Levine, MD, was just a few years old, the neighborhood kids called him "Puffer."

"I was so chubby that wherever I ran, I puffed and bobbled along. My weight meant that I also was bullied at school, and my head was shoved down into a toilet."

Fast forward some five decades. Levine, who specializes in diabetes and obesity, no longer has these problems. Far from it. He's garnered a national reputation as an expert in treadmill desk efficacy for healthcare professionals and others who use them in their workplace.

He's even designed a dozen or so prototypes, sawing off treadmill arms to accommodate desks cobbled with steel and Formica. No matter where he works—at the Scottsdale or Rochester Mayo clinics, in his office, or at home, essentially anytime except while seeing patients—one can see him strolling along at 1 mph.  

He's also lost weight, so much that at one point his own doctor suggested—needlessly as it turned out—he undergo a work up for cancer.

And he's inspired his colleagues to follow, quite literally in his footsteps. Mayo's cardiologists have installed a treadmill desk for use during the eight to 12 hours they spend in the echo reading room, nicknamed "the bat cave." Medical transcriptionists there stroll along while they type physician notes.

Radiologists even interpret CT studies while punching in the miles. Research by Levine documents that their accuracy results are no worse than, and sometimes better than, when the images were read while sitting.

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