My DIY Treadmill Desk

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You probably ALWAYS make your early morning workout.  You probably don’t like chocolate, either, so you?  You think P90X is for wimps, don’t you?  Good for you.  I am not you.  I LOVE chocolate and sometimes often 5:30am comes way too early. Who put those numbers on a clock, anyway!?!
So what’s a girl to do when she falls off the workout wagon — again?  I say, ‘Change the wagon.”
I’m not saying you shouldn’t workout, but if that’s the only thing you’re doing there’s no mercy for a bad day.  If you miss a workout, your whole routine is shot.  Besides, what makes us think that a 45 minute workout will really undo 10 hours of sitting?  Is that even logical?
I did a little research.  Women didn’t “workout” so much 50 or 100 years ago, yet they were slimmer and more physically fit as a rule.  There are a number of reasons for that, of course.  But a major contributor to their physique was the fact that they didn’t sit as much.  Their entire lifestyle involved more movement.  They walked to the local shops every day or so.  The meat was at the butcher’s, the bread was at the bakery and the kids needed to be walked to school.  They spent hours each day doing housework without the benefit of a team of machines.  They hung out the laundry instead of pushing a dryer button.  Entertainment didn’t involve a computer screen.  Neither did work.  From what I have researched, it appears that they were active about 4 hours per day more than the average American woman today.  I didn’t say you weren’t as busy.  You are probably far busier and more stressed than they were.  But it is likely that a lot of your work is done while sitting.  Theirs was not.
I figured that it would be helpful if I tried to increase my activity level to something more similar to these women of the past.  The question was HOW?  As lovely as daily swimming, hiking and bike riding sounds, there isn’t enough time in my day for that.  I am mentally and emotionally drained by the end of the day and don’t feel much like climbing Mt. Everest.  I often worked too late the evening before to make my 5:30am workout without it affecting the rest of my day.  How do I incorporate 4 extra hours of activity into my already overly busy day?
Enter the Treadmill Desk:
I decided to make my work and my activity happen at the same time.  I took a hard look at my day.  Each day is incredibly variable for me, but there are two main areas of my day in which I am mentally active, but not physically active — school and work.  If I could find a way to do those mental activities while incorporating movement, I would be healthier.  It isn’t a P90X workout, but it isn’t sitting, either.
What a Treadmill Desk is:
It is simply using a treadmill at a very low walking speed while you use your computer.  We’re talking 1-2mph or less.  You aren’t working up a sweat or getting your heart rate up.  You are just moving instead of sitting.
You can buy a ready made Treadmill Desk starting at well over $1500, or you can build your own for less than $300.  I, obviously, chose the latter.  I got a lot of my information from Treadmill Desk Diary.  I purchased and hacked the Confidence Treadmill he recommends, only I paid less than he did (not that I’m gloating…okay, yes I am.)  A couple more sites with great information are Work While Walking and Stand Walk Work. Once I had the treadmill, it was time to set up the desk.  I already had the book shelves (purchased from Lowe’s several years ago.).  I went back to Lowe’s and bought 4 shelf pieces for $8.99 each.  They were already the perfect size and color, so no cutting or painting was necessary.  I also picked up the crates there for less than $10 each.  I knew I would need to adjust my heights once I got going, so I didn’t want to do anything permanent yet.  In the picture below, you will see that my mouse and keyboard are on some books.  I plan to get another matching crate to replace the books.  That will bring everything to perfect heights for me.  All in all, I spent less than $300, including the brand new treadmill.  Not bad for something I use every.single.day.
What a Treadmill Desk is NOT:
*It is not a cardio workout.  You are walking slow.  You can’t do phone consultations when you’re out of breath.  You can’t type when you’re running.  This is pretty slow, folks.  It’s more like a Sunday Stroll through the park than a trip to the gym.
*It’s not a weight loss program.  Although, if you don’t change your eating habits, but increase your activity levels, you are likely to very slowly drop a little weight.  This is about getting out of a sedentary lifestyle, not about impressing your anorexic friends.
Some things you should know before you jump on a Treadmill Desk:
*Ergonomics are extremely important.  You can cause over-use injuries from things like looking too high or low at your screen, having your wrists at the wrong angle or having to stretch your arms to reach your mouse & keyboard.  Plan to take the first few weeks tweaking the heights of your screen, mouse and keyboard.  Don’t use a laptop unless you get an external screen.  The heights will be all wrong and you’ll hurt yourself.
*Plan to start really, really slow.  You shouldn’t try to start at a 2mph walk speed for an entire work day.  You will regret it.  Start at about 0.5-0.6mph.  Learn to type and walk at the same time.  Learn to click your mouse in the right place.  Expect your typing speed to go down for the first couple weeks.  Expect to start out making more typos.  Plan for it and give yourself time to get comfortable with a new thing.  Plan to only work while walking for an hour or so each day at first.  Work up slowly.  Your entire body needs to get used to this.  It isn’t necessarily intuitive at first.  But gradually, it will start feeling weird to NOT be walking while you work.  Even then, you only want to be walking while working for about 3-4 hours of your day.
*Pay attention to any new aches and pains.  They are signs that your don’t have your ergonomics right or you are doing too much too soon.  Adjust your desk and walking times accordingly.  Don’t just try to “work through it”.  That’s how over-use injuries occur.
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Just in case you think my desk is situated in a lovely, private office, let me show you my reality:

 

That’s right, friends.  I work from home.  My Treadmill Desk is tucked behind our kitchen table in the most busy area of our home.  Even so, I get a lot done here.  I have planned sermons, created school plans & forms, written blog posts and tons of other things right there on my treadmill desk.  I love it.

Have a great day!

Angela

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2 Comments

  1. It's great, Faith. It definitely helps with the good ol' American sedentary lifestyle. And even if I don't turn the treadmill on, I'm still standing, not sitting. That's got to be a good thing.

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