The Human Walking Program from Jake Barrow on Vimeo

The office environment has caught a lot of flak lately for being unhealthy — in particular, for fostering sedentary behavior among workers. But an innovative program at an Australian animal shelter is helping to get desk jockeys out of their chairs and on the move by pairing them with dogs in need of forever homes.

In April, The New York Times reported that a researcher from the Mayo Clinic had labeled excessive sitting “a lethal activity.” Last week, a study in Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that sitting for hours increases the risk of cancer. And the Australian Medical Association said last week that managers should be encouraging their employees to work out during office hours, after finding that 60 to 70 percent of the nation’s population is sedentary.

So how do you get desk-bound employees up and moving? The Lost Dogs Home has come up with a novel idea that’s good for people and canines alike: the Human Walking Program.

The Melbourne, Australia, adoption campaign “rescued” more than 5,000 office workers by offering them the opportunity to take an adoptable dog for a walk.

"We don’t always realize as office workers how many hours we spend cooped up inside, rarely getting out,” Kate Hoelter, general manager of fundraising and communications at The Lost Dogs Home, wrote on the group’s website. “So what better way to spend a lunch break than with a friend who will no doubt take the stress out of your day?"

In the win-win situation, workers and dogs got the exercise they needed — and, even better, all the dogs in the program were adopted.