Treadmill desk

Like a lot of programmers I spend far too much time hunched in an unnatural position in front of a computer, so I’ve had the idea for a long time of constructing a treadmill desk. It’s the time of new years resolutions and online bargains, so I have finally built one. (Note: The one pictured is not my desk. My camera is faulty at the moment. That is taken sans permission from a group called Office Walkers who are really into this. Mine involves a lot more gaffer tape).

I constructed mine from a £250 [$400] treadmill from Argos, a plank of wood that I happened to have in my shed, and gaffer tape, which is good enough to rest my laptop. If the experiment is a success, I can move to something more permanent later.

How is it? It gets its first real outing when I get back to work tomorrow. It’s not too noisy at low speeds, is reasonably easy to type, but I don’t know how it will be after 8 hours of real work, or if I’ll notice any improvements in a week.

One concern is whether walking for 40 hours a week counts as “real” exercise. There’s a lot of dubious “science” around, about how we “evolved as a species to be upright”, and how it burns 100 calories an hour, but as far as I can find, no hard science, no real studies, just a lot of anecdata. This guy seems to be researching the issues — not sure how much of a genuine scientist he is.

In case anyone is wondering … no, it doesn’t power my laptop🙂

7 Comments

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7 responses to “Treadmill desk

  1. I lost 15 pounds with my treadmill desk in three months. If you walk for 6-8 hours a day, and don’t eat more food to compensate, you will absolutely lose weight.

    You’re not finding studies about the “real exercise” part because it’s too blindingly obvious to study. If you burn an extra 600-800 calories a day, as I do with my treadmill desk, then you will lose weight, period, full stop.

    Congrats. IMHO, the treadmill desk is the best lifehack ever.

    • rich

      OK, good to know someone who reports the same positive experiences that I’ve been seeing around the ‘net.

      By “real exercise” I guess what I meant is whether this is a substitute for doing other forms of exercise. Should I keep doing occasional rowing and running too? I’ll see how it goes anyway.

      My setup is rather temporary — the laptop position isn’t very good where it is, the screen will be too low to be really comfortable, but if this works out for a few weeks, then I’ll put together a more permanent solution involving less gaffer tape.

  2. dragonbite

    Awesome! Gotta try and get it to power the laptop, that would be just too cool!

    As for whether you’ll lose pounds or not, it probably will help even though for greatest benefits you have to get your heart rate up some.

    The side-benefit is that with the exercise, more oxygen should be getting to your brain which may increase your productivity.

    Keep posting your findings, and how you feel. Make sure to give yourself a few months to get into it and get you (and your body) used to it!

  3. Pingback: [M]etabrain [E]ntry [L]og » Blog Archive » Nomadic alternatives to a treadmill desk

  4. joshuadf

    John Medina, a real brain researcher, mentions the treadmill desk as a great tool in his book Brain Rules:
    http://brainworldmagazine.com/?p=389

    “The good thing about scientific empiricism is that you can turn a guess into actual data,” says Dr. Medina. “You might have thought that people want to take a nap, but until you actually measure what the brain is doing when it wants to down-cycle in the mid-afternoon, it must remain in the realm of anecdote. I wrote Brain Rules because I got tired of hearing so much anecdote.”

    It also has citations to studies–I’d look it up but I passed along my copy of the book.

  5. Greg DeKoenigsberg uses his laptop daily on a treadmill for several hours and can confirm that walking done thereon is indeed exercise. If you want to be rigorous about it, weigh yourself, record and constrain your caloric intake, and watch the results over time.

  6. Pingback: Treadmill desk (part 2) « Richard WM Jones

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