"Office of the Future." It's creator, Dr. James Levine is quick to
correct them. "This is a fully functioning office. My entire staff works
here," he explains as he walks on a moving treadmill that serves as both
desk and computer platform. "The idea is to introduce an environment
that will encourage activity in the workplace. Just as it's hard to be a
couch potato without a couch, it's hard to sit all day at work without a
chair or a conventional desk or cubicle."
"We have meeting rooms, but for small groups we prefer the track," says
Levine. He's referring to a two-lane walking track that circles most of
the 5,000-square-foot floor. "So when my colleagues and I 'take a
meeting' we also take a walk."
This scientifically designed office environment is the practical
realization of a decade of research at Mayo Clinic. Levine, an
endocrinologist, has spent his career studying how humans expend energy.
His recent research findings (Science, Jan. 27, 2005) show that genomic
and biological differences impact how many calories a person burns
during everyday tasks. It proved the long-discussed concept of a "slow
metabolism" as a factor in obesity. It also showed that people can
increase their caloric "burn rates" by integrating more movement into
their daily regime. Dr. Levine calls this process "non-exercise activity