Treadmill desk. Rawr!

I’ve been talking about getting a treadmill desk for years. Many years, in fact. Well… I finally put action to words and did it. The jury is still out as to how I will like it. Regardless, it now exists and I am going to use it.

Treadmill Desk Pic1I can’t imagine that it will be directly responsible for an increase in my productivity or efficiency. I mean, how could it? The physical process of walking is disruptive for reading and typing. Fine motor control with a mouse or track pad are effected. There’s also a little more noise than I’d otherwise want in my working environment.

Regardless, I’m very hopeful for the indirect benefits of moving my body more during the workday. Historically, the more distance I get from an office chair, the better life is.

Some background:

Treadmill Desk Pic2

I got rid of my chair in either ’99 or 2000. For a couple years, I used a desk and theraball set up. That was good, I suppose. It was definitely better than sitting hunched in a chair all day. Back then I still did a lot of soup-to-nuts design work so it was easy to get sucked into a project and not move for hours and hours on end. The theraball kept me aware of my posture and I had to at very least participate in the process of defying gravity.

I haven’t had a chair since.
In ’04 I did away with sitting entirely and went to a standing desk. I was able to get one of the swanky, motorized ones. After a couple weeks of bwazooming it up and down, the novelty wore off and I unplugged it so it would be perpetually stuck in the standing position.

Treadmill Desk Pic3This did a couple things for me. First, and somewhat obviously, I wasn’t sitting on my ass all day. But I found that being on my feet encouraged me to do a lot of things away from my desk. Stuff that helped me to be better at my job. Sitting in a chair made it too easy to become stuck until the demands of food, biology or the homeward commute pried me free. With a standing desk, I found that I moved through my “at the desk” projects more quickly. I was also more likely to move away from desk, keyboard, and phone to tackle things that I may have thought about but not acted on from the confines of a chair.

I don’t know yet what to expect from my experience with the treadmill desk. To be honest, I haven’t done any reading on the subject. I just got sick of talking about getting one while not actually doing it.

So I did it.

And I’ll have to let you know how it turns out.

PS and for reference: There is a simple two-step process for having a $1300 dollar treadmill desk for sixty-five bucks. Step One: Buy a $1000 treadmill from your parents for $50. Step Two: Put a board on it.

I know. I know… you can thank me later.

7 thoughts on “Treadmill desk. Rawr!

  1. It’s a very nice board, too! You sand/varnish it or bought it that way? Hope the experiment works out (he says from his chair, while over there is an anti-fatigue mat he bought to get him to stand more…).

    (I actually do stand a bunch, but I could do it more.)

  2. Love this! I have a treadmill desk, too. Mine came from the treadmill (sadly not purchased from parents for $50, but useful for the family in general as the hubs is a marathoner and we live in the midwest where sometimes weather doesn’t cooperate with marathon training) plus the inverted pressed-wood/veneer shoe rack and a series of clamps to keep it all together and non-jiggly. I don’t like my desk to be jiggling, interferes with my ability to type (and increases my fear of my macbook air going flying across the room, which is a distracting fear!) I settled on the arrangement after finding I needed to tinker with the height of the treadmill desk or risk worsening my long-dormant but likes-to-flare-up carpel tunnel.

  3. Hmm…I’ve wanted a treadmill desk for a while but I’ve balked at the price. I do *have* a treadmill, and considered putting a board on it, but I was worried that a) my regular treadmill doesn’t do well at speeds less than 2 mph, and b) using a board on the arms of a regular treadmill must cause a lot of vibration for the computer. Are you finding either of these to be an issue?

    • I usually keep my treadmill set somewhere between 1.2 and 1.5 mph. The machine doesn’t struggle, but there is obviously some noise from the belt at all speeds.

      I use a laptop without any additional monitors. There is some jiggling of the screen while I’m walking, but I haven’t had a problem with it. Most of the setups that I found while trying to figure out my set up had the monitor mounted on a wall, kind of like a TV in a gym. The treadmill can shudder and shake as much as need be while the monitor stays steady on the wall.

      I don’t have a wall handy (my office walls are glass), so I just make do with my laptop jiggling. It hasn’t been a problem. I don’t even really notice it.

      I think the biggest thing to get right is making sure you get your keyboard at the correct height. All the moving and whatnot quickly fades to normal, in my experience.

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