On the fourth floor of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, the staff are all on their feet. Researchers, lab technicians and physicians type on computers that are positioned at eye level over softly humming treadmills; they take meetings standing up or walking calmly at a zenlike one mile per hour; wear mobile phones on their belts; and regularly go home at the end of the day hundreds of calories lighter.
This is the office of the future, says innovator James Levine, and it may well save the nation from a future of chronic obesity. Levine, an endocrinologist who has built his data and hypotheses around the importance of the ordinary movements of daily life rather than deliberate exercise, had his “aha” moment when one of his studies revealed that lean people are on their feet 152 more minutes a day than obese people. The data quickly translated into an office makeover that encourages people in traditionally sedentary settings to get up and move throughout the workday.Next: An interview with James Levine »