The Treadmill Desk Experiment

Remember the movie, Up? I loved every part of it – from the tear jerker beginning to the happy ending and everything in between. Among other things, I think it’s because I relate a little too much to the talking dog. You know the one. Once minute he’s focused on doing something and suddenly, “squirrel!”. Next thing you know, he’s distracted and completely focused on the possibility of seeing a squirrel. I often have “squirrel moments” – working away, focused on the task at hand. Someone sneezes or talks or gets a snack or opens a soda can and I find myself thinking of anything BUT the task at hand.

Which leads me to the topic of this blog. I was skeptical beyond words when my boss, Kim, and friend, Kelly, suggested that I try a treadmill desk. I love to walk and have had a standing desk of well over a year. The idea of the treadmill desk appealed to me – who wouldn’t want to exercise and work? I’m always trying to get to 10,000 steps and am in a competition with my Apple Watch to complete my Activity circles each day. However, I know my brain. The older I get the more distracted I am. So, walking while working seemed like one big squirrel moment waiting to happen.

Thankfully, I agreed to give it a try. I am now the proud user of the LifeSpan DT-7 treadmill desk and couldn’t be more pleased. Admittedly, I’ve only been using it for a couple of weeks, but so far, so good. It took some trial and error, but I feel as if I’ve mastered the basics and have a few thoughts to share.

 

1. It is possible to work and walk simultaneously, but speed is the key factor here. If you have to focus, slow down! I can easily walk at about 3 mph when reading or researching or answering emails. Put a pen in my hand or and Excel spreadsheet in front of me and it’s a whole new ballgame! At that point, I have to slow down to 2 mph or run the risk of sliding right off the back!

2. Who knew that walking all day makes for more energy, not less? Instead of snacking (or napping) during my mid-afternoon slump, bumping my speed to 3.5 mph for a few minutes re-invigorates my brain. I’m ready to tackle the rest of my day.

3. Walking is easy. It really is. You may find yourself walking 5 or 6 hours the first few days. Try not to do that. Taking breaks from the treadmill is important, especially if you are not used to walking long distances. Trust me, your legs will appreciate it if you gradually build up your time and speed. Sore muscles are not fun and losing sleep because you have sore muscles is even less fun – not that I know that from personal experience, or anything like that at all!

We all know that sitting all day is not good for your body. Some are even saying that “sitting is the new smoking”. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to all manner of long-term health risks, including the development of type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer and heart disease. That alone is reason enough to try a treadmill desk. But if you are on the fence, trying to decide if the benefits outweigh the cost, I strongly recommend giving it a try. Minding your speed while minding your Ps & Qs is the key to success, but it’s definitely worth the effort.

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