Remember when I posted about the risks of sedentary work and the benefits of the treadmill desk? And remember when I said I was going to ask “The Hubster” (aka, my hubby, Leo) to help me build a treadmill desk? Well, it happened and I’ve been on this thing for a week. And. I. Love. It.
Behold: Wendy, The Treadmill Desk
Here she is, in all her glory. Her foundation is a Horizon T101 treadmill and my hubby built the desk to fit her exact specifications.
Accessing the controls
When I researched treadmill desk designs, I read tons of complaints from treadmill desk owners, saying that they were frustrated that they couldn’t easily access their treadmill controls. Leo and I solved that by mounting the treadmill control panel directly to the desk and stabilizing the base. Since we didn’t touch the electronics themselves, I’m pretty sure the warranty is still valid.
A few of the highlights
One of the coolest things about Wendy is that she has her own speakers, built-in fan, and cupholders (and yes, that is a glass of Crystal Light Mocktails Appletini sitting on the desk). Basically, she’s tricked out.
How I Work and Walk
I’ve been getting questions from people about how I work, how I can walk and work at the same time, how long it took to get used to the treadmill desk, etc.
Getting Used to It
Working on the treadmill desk took a little getting used to. Walking all day long is serious business. I had quite a few days of achy back and hurting feet. But honestly, I’m surprised at how fast I adapted.
For the first few days, when I got tired or my feet would hurt, I’d stop the treadmill and stretch and just stand for awhile (while I worked). Those breaks became less and less necessary every day and now I’m literally walking all day long. Most importantly, I haven’t returned to my office chair one time since migrating to the treadmill desk. The chair is still in my office, but I haven’t sat in it since Day 1.
Warning: I’ve Always Been a Walker.
To be fair, I’ve always been a walker. I’ve done three day walks for breast cancer and I’ve spent years walking at the gym, sometimes for two hours at a fairly rapid pace. And whenever I’m in a “walking city,” you can bet I’m walking everywhere. In London, for example, Leo and I rarely even bother with the Tube, preferring to walk everywhere, for the most part. And in Montevideo, we walk everywhere unless we’re rushing off to a family dinner far away.
The Skills Involved
I was surprised at how easy it is to type and walk and talk and walk. The only thing that was a challenge was handwriting. For some reason, that’s a bit harder to master.
I can walk anywhere from 0.5 mph to 2 mph, depending on the task I’m doing. Right now, as I type this post, I’m at a comfortable pace of 1.5 mph, though sometimes I’ll crank it up to 2 mph while writing. If I’m talking with a client, doing a interview, or recording the radio show, I’ll keep it down at 0.5 mph. So far, no one has noticed the difference between meeting with me while I’m sitting and meeting with me while I’m walking.
I’d read reports from treadmill desk owners that said that they’d experienced all kinds of benefits from making the switch to the treadmill desk. People talked about improvements in their mood, weight loss, energy…I almost started to think it was a little snake oil-like.
But as it turns out, I’ve been far more energized since starting on the treadmill desk than I ever was when I sat in a chair. In fact, I used to sit in the office chair working all day, and by the end of the day I’d be really tired. I felt…well, I guess I felt like I’d been working all day. But when I’m done working on the treadmill desk, I feel as energized as when I get up in the morning. It’s weird- I’m not used to feeling this great.
I’ve also noticed that I’m more productive and focused when I’m on the treadmill desk, so I get a lot more done.
A Few Tips
If you’re thinking of making the transition to a treadmill desk, I’ve got a few tips for you:
- If you’re not a regular walker like I am, make the transition slowly. Set up your desk and start using it for an hour every day, then increase your time gradually. Some treadmill desk users also start out with a standing desk and get used to that first, then migrate to the treadmill desk. The point is, don’t set up your treadmill desk and then spend all day on it right away. This will set you up for injury pretty fast.
- Before you get on your treadmill for the long, all day haul, get your feet checked by a really good podiatrist. This will save you tons of pain in the long run. Walking long distances and for long periods of time can cause you all kinds of trouble, if you haven’t accounted for things like pronation.
- Stretch, stretch, stretch. Especially stretch your back and your calves. Not stretching can lead to all kinds of really bad, painful things like plantar fasciitis.
Invest in a really good pair of running or walking shoes. I wear Brooks GTS 11s with a pair of Powerset ProTech orthopedics.
- Don’t skimp on socks. I was surprised at how much more comfortable my feet felt with the right pair of socks.
- Hydrate. With water. Remember that beverages with caffeine are more dehydrating than hydrating, so avoid that stuff.
Above all, get moving! Remember: sedentary work is bad for you but active work is good for you!