Physicians on Treadmills Diagnose with Accuracy, Says Mayo Doc

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media , July 25, 2013

"I see that I can depend on this publication for comic relief," Robert Feld, MD, a radiologist at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, CT, wrote in a 2009 response to a paper by Mayo radiologist Jeff Fidler, MD, co-authored by Levine and others in the Journal of the American College of Radiology. Feld suggested that JACR editors ran the article "as a hoax."

Fidler and Levine's 2008 paper documented that reviewers who walked while reading cross-sectional CT scans had a 99% rate of detecting lesions with significant clinical importance, compared to 88.9% for reviewers who sat.

And Levine and co-authors point to a newer paper by residents of the University of Maryland Medical Center, who found that radiologists' had better accuracy finding lung nodules in CT scans while walking on a treadmill workstation than when standing or sitting.

"The routine use of a treadmill-based workstation for a portion of the day may provide substantial health benefits without a deleterious impact on image interpretation," and even conveys "a positive impact…on memory and concentration," the Maryland researchers wrote.

I'd have to agree. Prompted partly by an article in The New Yorker, this spring, yours truly built a treadmill desk for writing. It's a contraption made of plastic milk crates and Home Depot lumber, cut to suspend above the rails of an old Precor 9.33. I clock between 1 and 13 miles a day, usually between a 1 mph to 1.8 mph pace.

I'm walking as I type this column. A few minutes in, there's a rhythmic, almost hypnotic effect on my ability to focus. This set up is one of the four best things I've done for myself this year, and it only cost me about $100.

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