When Moore & Van Allen moved into new offices in the Kress Building about a year ago, the law firm's relocation committee decided it wanted to change the way employees worked.

So instead of standard desks, the company invested in sit-to-stand desks, which, exactly as the name suggests, allow you to adjust the height of the work surface to a sitting or standing position.

"I lost about five pounds the first month I started using it," said Chris Ogiba, an attorney at the firm. He said he stands up about half the work day.

"It also helped with thought processes," he said. "Maybe it's a blood-flow issue, I don't know, but I definitely noticed an improvement."

Sit-to-stand desks, which range in price, but usually cost at least several hundred dollars, are just one example of a trend to transform workplaces into healthier spaces. Recent research studies, including a 2010 report from the University of South Carolina, have concluded that sitting all day may be detrimental to our health.

The USC study demonstrated that men who spend more time watching TV and sitting in a car were more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. A 2012 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found, "Prolonged sitting is a risk factor for all-cause mortality, independent of physical activity. Public health programs should focus on reducing sitting time in addition to increasing physical activity levels."

Russell Pate, a professor of exercise science at USC's Arnold School of Public Health, said he's not surprised that Ogiba reported a five-pound weight loss within the first month of using his new desk. While the research is relatively new, there is a strong connection between weight loss and increased light physical activity.

"It's not so much the intensity of the activity that's important as is the total amount of activity that you do across 24 hours," Pate said. "It adds up to quite a lot of energy expenditure over a work day."

Once Roper St. Francis Vice President Doug Bowling read an article that called sitting "the new smoking," he decided he needed to invest in new office furniture.

"They say if you sit five hours a day, no amount of exercise will counteract that," Bowling said.

He recently bought a $3,000 treadmill desk from a company called Next Desk in Texas. It's essentially the same as Moore & Van Allen's sit-to-stand desks, but it includes a treadmill track on the floor. On the first day he used the desk, Bowling walked six miles while working.

"I love it," he said.

Exercise clothes aren't required - Bowling wears soft-soled dress shoes while walking on the treadmill - and he only walks 1.5 miles an hour. That's a fairly slow pace, much slower than you might walk while exercising.

Still, he's hoping the investment will pay off.

"I'm pre-diabetic. I struggle with my weight," he said. "And obviously, in health care, I'm as educated about nutrition, exercise, doing the right thing as anybody could be. It just wasn't working. I play tennis three nights a week and the weight wasn't coming off so I decided I had to do something a little more aggressive about it."

Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.