Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner takes innovative health approach

Sitting for long hours can seriously damage your health. The long hours required in the law profession often lead to a sedentary lifestyle, but Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, is offering its employees an alternative. Throughout the firm’s offices are “treadmill desks” — work stations where attorneys and other staff can walk or jog while accomplishing tasks.

The desks have all-around flexibility. They can be used as standing desks, and they can even be lowered so staff can work while reclining. The key is they allow staff members a break from sitting without requiring a break from work.

“The employees of this firm dedicate so much time and energy to their work, so it’s important for them to know their health is our utmost concern,” trial attorney P.J. Scheiner said. “Doctors say prolonged sitting is the new smoking. The dangers are well-documented, but treadmill desks give us an opportunity to combat them.”

People who sit for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity are at about the same level of risk of developing a fatal condition as those who smoke, an analysis of 13 studies showed, according to the Mayo Clinic. Cognizant of how movement can offset that hazard, a trial consultant introduced Bruce L. Scheiner to the treadmill desks a few years ago as a way to help him further his commitment to a healthy lifestyle, and the idea caught on.

The firm set up two shared treadmill desks and accommodated workers who asked for treadmill desks in their own offices, like Sherri Soyk, supervisor for the Inbound-Outbound Document Department. Soyk quit smoking about five years ago, and since she started using her treadmill desk, many of the health issues that lingered from her days as a smoker have disappeared, she said.

“Plus, I just feel more energized in the afternoon than I used to,” Soyk said.

Leslie Fattorusso, a supervisor in the Trial Coordination Department, noticed that walking and working on a treadmill desk gives her a similar boost in alertness and productivity.

“I’m not as sleepy throughout the day as I might be if I were just sitting there,” Fattorusso said. “It helps me be more alert, as opposed to sitting in a desk all day and getting groggy.”

Fattorusso also views the treadmill desk as a timesaver, since she doesn’t have to stay as long when she goes to the gym. Others have seen a weight-loss benefit. Using a treadmill desk four or five times a week for 15-30 minutes at a time has helped Trial Coordinator/Legal Assistant Gregory McMurrin shed 10 pounds on the way toward his goal of losing 30-40.

“It just feels better to be active,” McMurrin said. “I do feel better about my day, and I feel better in general when I use it.”

The treadmill desks took some getting used to at first for firm employees, since it’s a challenge to type and walk at the same time, they said, but they found that certain tasks lend themselves to the treadmill desks better than others.

McMurrin does his to-do list, emails and draft motions while he’s walking. P.J. Scheiner writes his emails on a treadmill desk, too, and he’ll also do editing work.

“Surprisingly, it’s not difficult,” Scheiner said. “Everybody has a natural cadence or pace. Taking the steps becomes second nature.”

Not everybody at the firm uses the treadmill desks, but there are enough people on the shared workstations for Scheiner to feel confident they’ve become popular tools that help employees get their work done and live better lives.

“The fact that I see them used pretty regularly tells me all I need to know,” Scheiner said.

Visit blslaw.com to see how the work of Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, is helping people who have been injured through the negligence of others.