Considering a Treadmill Desk?
Here's what you should know.

Why get a treadmill desk?  If you are a desk jockey like most of us, there are some serious benefits to reducing the amount of hours you are sitting on your behind.

Have you ever thought about how many hours you sit every day?  I never did, until a change in jobs turned me into a sedentary blob.

I always had very active jobs.  I was always running around doing something.  I felt good, even energetic, at the end of the day, even though I had expended so much energy.

Then I took a step up in my career...and a step down into a chair.

I sat.  All day, every day.  Just sat.  The more I sat, the faster I got things done.  Getting up seemed like a luxury I couldn't afford if I wanted to get home at a decent hour.  I never really thought anything of it.  I certainly didn't think it would have a negative impact on my health.

But it did.  The first year I gained 30 pounds, even with still being active outside of work. 

Fast forward a full three years of all that sitting at my new sedentary job.  I had turned into a complete slug.  My energy was completely sapped by the end of the day.  I had attributed it to the mental demands of the work.  After all, how could I have been tired when I didn't really move all day?

But once I started having back pain, then neck and wrist pain, I knew something was up. And I had resolved to do something about it.

Inactivity Physiology -
What the research shows about all that sitting

As I was researching a solution for my pain and tiredness, I came upon the term "inactivity physiology."  

In particular, this paper caught my eye:  

Too Little Exercise and Too Much Sitting: Inactivity Physiology and the Need for New Recommendations on Sedentary Behavior by Hamilton et al, 2008 (open access).

This was just one of many papers saying that we have to look at movement differently.  Yes, vigorous activity can help prevent common killers like heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers, but it gets cancelled out if you spend the rest of your day sitting.

I went over my day in my head. 

I spent eight hours in bed, went to work to spend eight or nine hours more sitting, then I came home and typically parked my butt on the couch for the rest of the evening.  I figured I was spending around 14 hours a day sitting!  Add eight hours of sleep and, well, you get the idea.  Even when I went to the gym, that only reduced the sitting hours to 13!

The research was saying:

  • that people need a lot of movement throughout the day to be in good health (a treadmill desk is ideal). 
  • that simply working out for an hour and then plopping your butt down the rest of the day is not enough. 
  • that serious metabolic disorders are being caused by our sedentary lifestyles.
  • that technology is driving this behavior and it's only going to get worse

This is where the treadmill desk comes in...

So what is a desk jockey to do? 

Well, you've probably come across standing desks.  And while they are a step in the right direction, many find that they are uncomfortable to use.

For them, a treadmill desk might be the solution they are looking for.  It certainly was for me.  

I did a lot of research before committing to such an investment.  I'm glad I did too, because just any old treadmill desk contraption won't do. 

Most treadmills are meant for fast speeds for a short amount of time.  Trying to put a Craigslist find under a desk won't work long term - its motor will quickly burn out. 

You need something designed for long periods at slooowww speeds, say 1-2 mph.

I came across Treaddesk treadmill desk and was sold. 

I had some concerns about using a treadmill desk at first. 

  • How easy was it to use?
  • Would I get dizzy?
  • Would I lose focus and fall off?
  • How would it alter my productivity?
  • How would it alter my weight and energy?
  • Would it make work a total drudgery?

Even with these hesitations, I figured it was worth the investment in my health.  I bought one of their early models in 2011 and even with thousands of miles put on by both me and my husband, it is going strong! 

All of my worries were unfounded as we both took to it easily.

I actually think my productivity is higher with the Treaddesk.  The movement makes me focus like a laser.  Before when I would sit, it would be pretty easy to get distracted or start daydreaming.

I typically walk around 1 mph when typing or using the mouse.  For reading, I can bump it up to 2 mph pretty easily.  It is adjustable from 0.5 mph to a heart-pumping 4 mph.  I doubt anyone can get much done at those higher speeds though.

I've never lost my balance on it, not even close, despite the fact that I sort of "forget" I'm walking after a while.

And the best part - my energy came roaring back and my weight dropped back down to my previous weight before I took the new job.

Who would have thought that sitting all day would make you tired, and walking most of the day would give you a ton of energy?

So how many hours do I walk on it?  It depends on my work schedule.  There have been times when I walked all of my work day on it (clocked 10 miles!).  I've also clocked just under a marathon for my weekly total (25 miles).  Weekends I typically do not use it very much. 

Are there some days I just don't feel like using it?  Yup.  Then I sit on my stability ball.  Even though I am sitting, I am still using my core muscles to stay balanced on the ball.  Did you notice it in the picture at the top of the page?  I love that thing.  It's a lot of fun!  This is it below.

What I like the most about it is that it is made from a non-toxic/phthalate-free material. 

Phthalates are a class of chemicals that are added to many plastics and vinyl materials in order to soften them.  They are known to cause disruption to the body's hormones and are considered a probable carcinogen by the EPA. 

Plus the Natural Fitness company is very environmentally friendly, and it is always nice to be able to reward companies that are doing the right thing when it comes to our health and environment.

- - Treadmill Desk