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It's really all in the title...

I'm looking for ways to incorporate a bit more exercise into a desk-worker's life, and I recently stumbled over the idea of building a treadmill desk.

Wikipedia:

A Treadmill Desk is a working desk built around a treadmill. A person using the treadmill desk walks slowly on the treadmill while continuing to perform office tasks at the desk. [...]

The aim of a treadmill desk is to integrate movement and gentle exercise into the working day of an otherwise sedentary office worker. Rather than sitting all day in a chair, a treadmill desk allows desk-based workers to stand and take a slow walk while working.

A treadmill desk is not typically used for a cardio workout, as most users find walking at a speed of 1.0 - 2.0 mph the ideal range. At slower walking speeds, most able-bodied people can undertake desk-based tasks such as typing or talking on the telephone. However, even at these slower speeds, a person may burn 100 - 150 calories per hour, which may result in increased fitness and weight loss.

Being able to walk for a substancial portion of one's workday sounds promising, but I'm wondering if there are any downsides with the use of treadmill desks in general, or maybe things to look out for.

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3 Answers 3

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I have been using a treadmill desk for the past 6+ months. As Jesse pointed out above, I do have more energy during the day than when I was in "Thinker" position all day. And yes, I have tripped once or twice, but in those cases I prolly would have even without the mill; I am the living incarnation of Jack Tripper. Some notes:

  • My goal was not to lose weight but to alleviate posture issues and repetitive motion injuries from sitting at a desk all day. An additional goal was just to get moving a little, since hip and knee problems had sidelined me from all of my regular sports activities.

  • So, no weight loss, since I up'ed my intake along with the additional output.

  • I had tried a standing desk, but that failed in no time. I could not stand and work for that long. I found that the walking actually made it easier to be upright than just standing. I had no problems with the treadmill, and today I can walk or stand all day with no issues.

  • Biggest difficulty with my setup is that I leave my desk frequently to talk with others => constantly starting and reprogramming the mill is annoying; I tend not to walk as much (just stand on it) due to that. I have a controller circuit designed to deal with that, but haven't gotten around to building it...(it didn't give me infinite energy).

  • Second biggest issue for me is the reduced usable desk space. You can have a lot of desk but while walking, you are limited to using ~ the forward 90-degree arc.

  • Writing/drawing is a little more than I can manage while walking, so I tend to go to the break room whenever I need to do more than a little of that.

For me, the setup is a clear win. The reduced pain and extra energy easily make up for the inconveniences.

I hope this information is useful to someone.

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All other things being equal you'll burn more calories walking than sitting (assuming average sitting behavior...?), so you'll lose weight.

Beware falling down--if you get too engrossed and forget you're moving you'll get thrown off the back end: wear your kill-switch to avoid entertaining tread burn as you lay crumpled in a heap at the end of the track.

I look at it as the physical manifestation of white noise. Your co-workers will think it's the noise manifestation of white noise.

I'd also get a nicely-programmable one (preferably that you can hook up to the network) and run programs that vary incline and speed in subtle ways. If your co-workers are adept at hackery, keep it off the network, or risk random bursts of 12mph/10% which will almost certainly ruin your day (but greatly enhance theirs).

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  • You have given me some great and malicious ideas...
    – Evorlor
    Commented Oct 20, 2023 at 3:20
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A treadmill desk may be a large investment that will get bored fast. A few months ago I got caught up in the standing desk hype so I built one - it wasn't hard, just required separating my Ikea Galant desk and using some spare legs I had. So this gave me a standing desk and a sitting desk each with a 24" monitor. Anyways, it didn't last.

I also have a high-end gym quality treadmill near by that just happens to hold my 15" MacBook Pro at the perfect height, at least for my arms. I often set it at around 3.5km/hour and walk for a few hours while doing lighter work loads and then will go back to my proper desk.

I find this much better than a standing desk, and it breaks up the day a little.

I am looking into some sort of stand where I can use a spare 24" display I have here while at the treadmill, but its not very high on my priority list - the work I save for treadmill time is usually fine on the smaller monitor and I don't find my neck angle to be a problem.

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