Obesity expert, ‘Treadmill desk’ inventor to leave Mayo

Dr. James Levine.jpg

The man who got the world excited about walking while working is leaving the Mayo Clinic.

James Levine, a physician and researcher at the clinic’s main campus in Rochester, is heading to The Cleveland Project for University Hospitals Case Medical Center. It’s a new initiative promoting healthy living in Cleveland, according to the Rochester Post-Bulletin.

Levine is credited with creating the Office of the Future. In 2005, he proposed stationary computers at treadmills to increase workers’ exercise opportunities. He also led researchers of NEAT— short for “non-exercise activity thermogenesis” — at Mayo.

In 2006, he took his idea into Rochester Public Schools. At the time, he told MPR that classrooms need to be redesigned so children and machines can move.

It turns out his idea was a big hit. Workers around the country abandoned their ergonomically-correct chairs for walking, or simply standing, at their workstations. And teachers designed stand-up desks to get kids to moving in classrooms, too.

This is exactly the kind of activity Levine has long advocated for. Over the past decade, obesity has become recognized as a national health threat and a major public health challenge. In 2007 and 2008, approximately 72.5 million adults in the were obese, based on measured weights and heights, according to the Center for Disease Control.

Levine will soon bid farewell to Minnesota. But the man who introduced the standing phenomenon to the world says his mission to get people moving and healthy will continue.

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