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JA Counter allows employees to walk while working

Katie Cole takes the walking work station for a test drive on Thursday at JA Counter and Associates.

Now they literally go the extra mile at JA Counter and Associates Inc.

The employee benefits and investment agency last week installed its first walking work station at its office and encouraged employees to give it a try.

According to owner Linda Skoglund, she'd heard about new trends in flexible work spaces for years and was excited to offer something new for her employees. Skoglund read several magazine articles about companies that offer walking stations and researched the topic prior to buying a unit.

A Treadmill Desk, along with a computerized treadmill, is now available in one of the firm's offices. While employees walk on the treadmill, they can work on their computer, talk on the phone or conduct any number of business tasks.

"They're big in Europe," Skoglund said on the walking work stations. "And it's definitely a growing trend in this country."

Skoglund said employees will now sign up for their chance to use the special treadmill. She hopes the new fitness equipment and work station becomes a sought-after spot.

"I'm very engaged in promoting the health of our workforce," she said. "But everyone is so busy every day, anything we can do to encourage more activity is a good thing."

If JA Counter's employees use the walking work station, Skoglund said the plan is to buy another such unit so everyone has a chance to get some extra exercise.

"And if we have two of them, we can even use them for walking meetings," Skoglund said.

Skoglund said such work stations are a good idea for employers looking to encourage better wellness among employees.

"A healthy employee is a happy employee," she said.

Skoglund said her employees have indicated that they plan to take advantage of the new work station.

"They're super fired up about it," she said.

Katie Cole, employee benefits account executive, was the first to give the new station a try. She claimed it was easy to continue working on her computer while walking.

"You kind of forget that you're exercising," she said. "I really like it. It's really easy to use."

Skoglund said JA Counter employees plan to use the walking work station during an upcoming community walking challenge, set to launch in August through the Vitality Initiative in New Richmond. The challenge will pit teams across the community against each other as they collectively "Walk to Key West."

"This is just one contribution I can make to help my employees get their steps in," she said.

Skoglund purchased the walking work station from Lifespan, a fitness equipment company. She indicated that there are many different options for similar work stations, some less expensive and some very expensive.

She said it's a good idea to research the topic prior to buying.