Walking while you work?: The treadmill desk is a thing

Updated Oct 12 2015
meggyfin

treadmill desk

We've talked about standing desks before, and I totally see their benefit. But OMG check out this standing treadmill desk. I can't tell if this is genius or ridiculous.

Part of me says, hey, all the benefits of a standing desk PLUS exercising while you work? That sounds rad. But then part of me says, I think I'd get extremely nauseous trying to type while walking.

So, anyone try this kind of setup before? Can you walk and work?

  1. My aunt had one of these! She said it took a little while to get used to, but then she really liked it. I believe hers was home-built, using a treadmill (duh), and probably they built the desk from scratch? I don't know, I never actually saw it… (After moving from a large house in Saskatchewan to an apartment in downtown Hamilton, ON, she no longer has it…)

  2. I'm a special ed teacher – so I'm ALWAYS walking while I work 🙂 But if I had a desk job, I think I would LOVE something like this… well, at least for the first couple weeks haha

  3. I would LOVE if this. One thing I'm not so sure about is the phone set up there — most treadmills, even the newer "quiet" ones, are still a little noisy for business phone conversations. I think I'd be better served getting a cordless phone & just walking around the office without being on the treadmill! But for being on the computer & getting work/emails done… on the treadmill for sure. Even if I had to stay really slow at first, snail paced walking is already a vast improvement over sitting on my butt for long stretches of time.

    • My boss has this setup, and he's on the phone a good portion of the day. Since you're walking only 1 mile an hour, it's still relatively quiet.

  4. My brain would not handle this. If I even get the slightest bit distracted, my step rhythm gets thrown off and I end up dragging my feet or stumbling. I can't even watch TV while I'm on a treadmill. I don't know what I'd do if the phone rang or I started browsing Tumblr.
    I'm also wondering if using this comfortably would mean walking towards the back half of the treadmill?

  5. Oh this reminds me of an episode of IT Crowd where one of Jen's coworkers, Linda, is jogging in place during a board meeting. Jen asked if she was doing a wee-wee walk and Linda said, ""It is not a wee-wee walk. I am actually doing a round the world virtual triathalon for charity using an iPhone application and Google Maps. Look, I'm in Spain."

  6. I do this sometimes! I don't have an official treadmill desk, but I got a thing called Surf Shelf from Amazon which lets me securely mount my laptop to the treadmill console. I put some scrap wood across the handle bar thingies and use that to hold a wireless mouse and keyboard.

    My treadmill (a Livestrong 13.T I got last year) is totally quiet enough for phone conversations if I'm walking (but not running of course)

    The benefit of my non-dedicated setup is that I can easily take the board off and actually run on my treadmill (which is theoretically why I got it in the first place)

  7. Ergonomically, would having a laptop be good for your back/neck/elbows? Either you'd be stooping to see the screen or holding your arms at an uncomfy angle to type. I could see it working with a large display or some kind of touchscreen though. Could be good for jobs with shorter tasks like call centres, maybe not so good for a long task where you risk zoning out and falling off 🙂

    • I've seen some doctors recommend treadmill desks, but they stress that your screen should be at eye level so that you can walk with a "tall posture".

      John Green (the author) has a treadmill desk, but I think he mentioned once that it's kinda difficult to write while you walk. I can definitely understand that it would take MUCH practice to be able to do it.

  8. I think this is totally do-able, especially at a slower pace. I do get a bit of vertigo while running on a treadmill, but if this were set at a slow walking pace, you can pretty much do anything, including typing, eating lunch, spinning in circles, etc! And as any treadmill lover knows, you can instantly jump off onto the side platforms if you need to focus your eyes/brain/hands on something immediately. You don't have to actually turn it off and wait for it to slow down.

    If I had the money and space, I would do this in a minute. Maybe a good experiment is to start with using a yoga ball as a desk chair. Strengthens your core just sitting there, balancing yourself!

  9. But I'm so clumsy! I once fell over on the treadmill when there was nothing distracting me. This would be like asking for head trauma and broken bones.

  10. I think this was on WaitWait this week – treadmill desks decrease typing speed and increase errors. But I guess those are probably worth it to avoid terrible leg clots and chairbutt. I imagine it's a lot like those people at the gym who try to read the newspaper while using the stairclimber. Hilarious.

  11. We totally have this at our work. Our company is big on wellness and even has wellness incentives so that we get discounts on our medical insurance. You have to sign up for the walking workstation and you only get to use it a couple hours a week for a period of 8 weeks because there's a huge waiting list. I got to pilot the program and the treadmill that is designed to be part of a desk doesn't go over 2 mph. I would start at a crawl and slowly up the speed. It wasn't as hard as you would think, especially since I had to be on the phones at the time. As a part time thing, it was nice to get up out of the desk and get moving for part of the day. I thought it would be hard to concentrate while walking, but since the speed was so slow, it worked out great. I wouldn't want to run while working though…

    • My first thought with treadmill desks is "An artist couldn't use those…my drawings would be all shaky!!" So I clicked your link when you said Colleen is a cartoonist!

      At the end of the article she mentions she is going to sit down and draw, so…still no word if you can draw like this. I still guess no. A standing desk would work though!

  12. Have a friend who built one of these desks himself for his company (he's self employed). The dude is IN SHAPE. I'm not sure if it's because of this desk, but it definitely isn't hurting.

    I think I'm a little hyperactive for this… just like I can't sit at my desk for long without wandering around the house and starting something else, I probably couldn't walk at it for very long either.

  13. I would love to have a desk like this, but I am a teacher and don't think it would work. When I am teaching, I am standing. The only times I sit down are to type or grade papers, and I don't think that I could do either of those things while walking.

  14. Bonus points if you can hook up the treadmill to your computer or desk light and use the energy you generate! We have been talking about installing bicycles underneath our desks.

  15. I have this! Well, I don't have this, but I also don't have a desk so I spend a lot of time running around trying to find a computer I can use. Which is nearly the same, right?

  16. My dad made something similar to this, but he did it with an exercise bike instead of a treadmill. It's a nice solution, because you can adjust the speed according to your activity (like going faster when you're reading than when you're writing) and it's less problematic if you're prone to getting entranced and stopping accidentally.

  17. The author A.J. Jacobs built himself one while writing "Drop Dead Healthy" (which is hilarious, as are all his books and everyone should read them!). It took him two years to write the book and he logged several hundred miles and really loved it.

  18. When I set up the standing desk, I totally considered this! But the treadmill is too large for my tiny office. Also – I'm not sure you actually move around more than when you are at the standing desk – where I tend to easily jump around, shift back and forth, or just walk away from the desk while thinking.

  19. I couldn't modify my desk at work to have a treadmill (I use photoshop all day and I need my hands/arms to be fairly steady to do precise work)…but I got one of those mini exercise bikes and it fits right under the desk…so I can pedal lightly for most of the day…doesn't burn a ton of calories but keeps my legs moving and I don't get leg cramps or numbness anymore from sitting for long periods of time. It's great…and the best part…I bought it at Aldi's for $30!!

  20. Totally rad! Although I get motion sick fairly easily, I recently discovered I can read while using my elliptical! I just can't go super fast, but when you're reading being on the elliptical for 45 minutes doesn't seem NEARLY as long, so it makes up for it.

    I would love one of these at work – I'm at my computer a LOT and I have to read/research a lot, so it would be nice to be able to stand/walk and do it at the same time.

  21. Thanks for this… I'm still a bit skeptical about a treadmill desk, though I have thought about it. And I do know that if I am to get one, it will be from the folks who I've gotten my adjustable height desk from (NextDesk.) They use eco-friendly materials, they use an adjustable desktop (for a treadmill desk too), there are tons of options, it's American-made, and plus, they're beautiful.
    So. If you're looking for something a bit more stationary, check out their adjustable height desks; but if you're looking for something to walk on, I hear their treadmill desks are coming soon!
    Let me know what you think!
    NG
    http://www.nextdesks.com

  22. I don't have this specific setup but I've been using a treadmill desk for three years now and I love it! I've always thought better when moving and at low speeds – I never go above 1.5mph and usually not that fast – my typing is apparently unaffected. When the treadmill is working right I average between 30 and 40 miles/week, but my TreadDesk treadmill has been getting sicker and sicker so I'm getting a new LifeSpan setup. It's quieter and nicer than the TreadDesk but wasn't on the market when I bought my current one.

    The purpose designed ones aren't cheap but I've decided my health, physical and mental, is worth the investment.

  23. I have the exercise bike version. I can't work on it all day, but I spend about an hour or so using it while I check email and read for classes. I'm a grad student, so its really hard for me to find an hour everyday to do nothing but work out. This is a great way for me to get some exercise into my crazy schedule and I can already tell the difference from when I didn't have it. Totally worth every cent.

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