Vertical Workstation
Reuters
The Mayo Clinic has built  a "vertical workstation" so workers can shed pounds while staying productive.
By Brian Tracey Associate editor
msnbc.com
COMMENTARY

Do you feel like your career is going nowhere fast? Then you probably will think a new desk designed at the Mayo Clinic is overkill.

The research hospital recently built what they called a "vertical workstation" — a desk fitted over a standard treadmill. They persuaded 15 obese people to work at this treadmill-desk and measured how many calories they burned.

If an overweight office worker used the $1,600 vertical workstation all day, every day for a year, he or she could lose up to 66 pounds, the researchers report in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

James Levine and Jennifer Miller measured how many calories their 15 volunteers burned using exhaled breath but did not determine if the volunteers lost weight.

On average, their overweight volunteers burned 100 calories more every hour while walking slowly than while sitting in a chair.

"With population body weight, workplace sedentariness and healthcare costs projected to increase, interventions that allow people to work and yet be active could help reverse obesity," they concluded.

That's an admirable goal. But for those of are who suffering from insomnia, we can't wait for the "horizontal workstation."

Not-so-bad ideas

  • Two bozo-business themes that seem to constantly crop up in this column are truly geeky tech toys and preposterous pet products. So imagine our delight when we discovered something that straddles both categories: The Wowbbler, "the world's first multi-level, technology-enabled interactive pet toy."

Yes, now you can get Fido to amuse himself while you obsessively play Tetris on your GameBoy. Dogmatic, the company behind the gizmo, says its design team spent over a year in "canine perceptual research" to create a pet toy "that maximizes stimulation through multiple sensory points [using] multiple technologies, including integrated random-execution software, and motion and pressure sensors."

TECH-ENABLED PET TOY
Dogmatic Products  /  PR Newswire
The Wowbbler brings dog play into the Digital Age.
The company plans to roll out the Wowbbler later this year, and it follows the successful launch last year of Snackshotz, "the world's first treat-launching game" where pet owners use a toy gun to lay down a devastatingly delicious barrage of canine kibble.

Dogmatic's CEO Ren Moulton said, "We are leveraging different technologies ... to take stimulation to a whole new level to keep pets continually interested and involved even if their owners can't be there."

We just suggest that before you head to work, you show your furry companion where you keep the extra batteries.

  • Here's something from the we-can't-make-this-stuff-up department: Pilgrims to a holy shrine in Portugal are being given free maps of the site that show the Virgin Mary on one side and advertisements for sex toys and aphrodisiacs on the other.

The maps, thought up by a local advertising company, have raised eyebrows among the Catholic faithful and ire from the authorities at the popular Sanctuary of Fatima.

"The map is not official and makes the wrong use of the picture of the Virgin Mary," a shrine spokeswoman said last week ahead of the the 90th anniversary of the first appearance of the Virgin Mary to three shepherd children on a hillside near the town 75 miles north of Lisbon. "The Sanctuary is saddened and will carry out the necessary measures to end its distribution."

Yes, massage oil and holy water really don't mix.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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