By Audrey Quinn
Posting in Energy
An increasing number of companies keep their office workers walking on the job.
We've heard it again and again in recent years - sitting all day could take years off our lives. But unfortunately, standing's not so great for you either. It's hard on your back, your circulatory system, and your fine motor skills.
Fortunately, there's a third option for the office-bound: treadmill desks.
Invented by the Mayo Clinic's Dr. James Levine in 2005, the concept features a slow moving treadmill rigged with a computer-ready desk.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the healthcare company Humana has purchased forty Walkstations in recent years. Those models come in at $4300, but set-ups under $1000 can be found online, along with instructions on how to build your own treadmill desk.
Author A.J. Jacobs brought the desks greater notoriety this Spring when he featured them in his book Drop Dead Healthy. The Esquire editor tried out hundreds of health-conscious life adjustments in researching his book, and the treadmill desk was one of the few he stuck with.
"I spent 14 hours a day sitting," he told USA Today, "Now, I find if I walk more, I have more energy." He figures he walked 1,200 miles while putting his book together.
There's a smart financial incentive for companies to offer the rigged-up desk sets. Teadmill desks can burn 100 to 130 calories an hour, achieving what often-underused corporate gyms fail to do: they keep employees in shape, which drives down a company's healthcare premiums.
Besides the liklihood of exhaustion from an eight hour "walk day," there's also the question of impact on job focus. Tell SmartPlanet what you think, could you work as well while walking?
Photos: instructables.com and KOMUnews/Flickr
Jun 21, 2012
I made my setup for under 300 bucks! So far it works like a charm! I've even lose some weight, and I'm not exactly a very large person to begin with... Check out my progress if you're interested! http://www.brainlings.com/treadmill-desk-diary/
I've been using it for two years now and have gone through several different setups before finally arriving at something that really works well for me. If you haven't read James Levine's (Mayo Clinic) "Move a Little, Lose a Lot" book you absolutely must to understand why treadmill desks work and aerobic devices like under-the-desk cycling pedals don't do the same thing. The key is *not* to go aerobic but to raise your basal metabolic rate. I've experienced fantastic weight loss and reduction in diabetes/glucose ever since integrating the treadmill desk into my daily routing - typically under 3 hrs a day realistically given meetings and certain tasks like precision graphics work that I still need to do sitting down. The treadmill desk has changed my life and several of my colleagues got one, too, after trying mine out when I was out of town. We all swear by it.
In the interest of full disclosure we make treadmill desks, but only for those people who need them. If you are not walking at least a minimum of 10,000 steps a day (5 miles) then you might want to consider this. If you have a job that keeps you up and moving you don't need one. That simple. Sitting is now considered as hazardous to your health as smoking, so sit less move more should be the new mantra. You can visit the TrekDesk website and read 100's of articles on the emerging field of sedentary science and how movement can extend your life along with customer testimonials from individuals who have actually used a TrekDesk and learn how it has transformed their lives. Information is power, movement is life changing.
While it is true that a lack of movement can kill, walking on a treadmill all day (walking to no-where) would drive me crazy. Walking is obviously better than sitting but it is still just one singular action. What is lacking is change. Yes, the body needs to perform many different types of movements every day to feel well. I have found a better alternative, and that is to work on the floor at a low desk, under which I can have my legs straight, and plenty of space around and behind me to move my body in many mysterious ways while working at the computer. I made a video about the set-up: "How to Cure Computer Sickness with Ergonomic Comfort at Work" which can be seen on my YouTube channel: "FloorExercises" Juliette Kando F.I.chor.,
For certain aspects of my job this would be great, others not so good. Writing will get worse on a tread mill, I have taken work and made notes on it at the gym on a treadmill (at a fast walk). The handwriting is only something I would be able to read myself. I think typing would be possible and relatively easy at a slow to medium walking pace. I have also made notes on work on a seated bicycle, these are much more readable, but pace suffers while writing. Reading, even critical or technical reading is possible in either situation, in fact I found my concentration improved. Of course that could be because people interrupt me all the time at work and only a few people would do the same at the gym.
Might make better sense to have a pedal concept of an exercise cycle. This way you can sit, work & burn calories!
I can see a stationary bike or eliptical, but not a treadmill. First off, a treadmill uses electricity, which is a cost beyond the equipment itself. Secondly, walking on a treadmill for a long time hurts my knees - a treadmill can exert sideways force on my joints if I am not perfectly timed to the machine's pace. I would bring up noise, but considering the hallway meeting taking place nearby, I would probably prefer the whirling from a machine.
I set up a desk on my treadmill. My typing and coordination improved with use. Then the treadmill decided to generate its own magnetic field and knocked out the wi-fi. The tech could find no problems, an Isobar failed to isolate line noise, and the CSR at the treadmill company told me not to bother ordering a new control panel, that it would, sooner or later, do the same thing. The Internet assures me that many treadmills interfere with wireless function. How do these offices handle the problem if/when it occurs?
The human being has a great capability of adaptation and I believe that is feasible to work on environment like that, however, not for a day long basys. Perhaps it could be pratical in intervals during the day on working stations that could be shared with co-workers. Despite the fact that it can be beneficial to health in general and agreeing with other comments, for sure it is not for everyone. Now, thinking green and renewable energy the treadmills could at least generate energy to power its batteries... well I am not an engineer... this is only a thought. All in all, a good balance between walking and seating for a day-work routine, could be a good approach to spread out this idea. I would be willing to try it, don't you?
my subject line is not entirely accurate but i just couldn't resist. my desk is at home. i use my mac mostly for writing so i'm dubious. i'd hate to lay out one, two or three grand to find out this really dosen't cut it even though the idea appeals. on top of it all, i'm loathe to give up my 3-a-week gym session because that's where i really push it and get to watch young women in gym gear. so, back to work for me and concentrate on eliminating alliteration.
This is great for those working as CSRs. They can talk to customers and walk while hitting a key or two to get thru prompts and read screen while they work/walk. I could see where employers using these stations could pay 100$ more/month for employee's health insurance if they walk while they work. etc. Give incentive to those who use such stations. While not the best set up for a transcriptionist - the idea is do-able.
I have a difficult time reading a book when I work out; I can read it but both my speed and comprehension suffer. I realize they must be walking more slowly than I do when working out given the number of calories/hour listed in the article but I can't imagine I'd be able to use the keyboard without making more typing errors than usual and therefore requiring even more proof-reading, etc. Sounds great but can't believe it won't impact productivity.
...speaking as someone who has both used, and has observed others using, the pedestrian desk type of system. GSK's staff doesn't use them anywhere NEAR as much as you'd think.. it's hard to do any sort of productive work when your gait makes it difficult to focus on a computer screen, or writing.. typing is viable, but writing is generally out of the question. Another entity I've seen that uses them is the Educational Credit Management Corporation - ECMC is one of the major education loan processors in the country. There, pretty much anyone who has a walking desk also has a sitting desk as well. Neat idea, but not 100% viable across the board yet.
On an elliptical your body goes thru many more gyrations and walking slowly, evenly is easier and allows you to be more fine tuned to typing etc. I don't think I could read on an elliptical, and my handwriting may get worse.
I have found with my treadmill desk that if I do not use a bluetooth keyboard and mouse I'll get little "sparks" when I touch my laptop and all sorts of weird things happen with various digital devices. With my HP laptop the unit will shut down within seconds of starting the static-generating belt. Switching to bluetooth to isolate me from the computer did the trick. Static discharge pads under the laptop and grounding the treadmill made zero difference. Blurtooth is the answer.
I would suggest having a desk made for you (cheaply) that your treadmill could by set into temporarily. Best of both worlds for much less $.
Typing accuracy is not a problem. You develop a rhythm and it makes it easier. Adjusting the speed is necessary, and more use makes it much easier.
I was intrigued by the idea when it first came out, and constructed one at my home. I made a large "C" shaped desk surface and set a treadmill in it. I found that getting used to the keyboard was not a problem and I was able to adjust the speed for various tasks. Reading was ok, typing was no change - with no back problems, and the only problem was accessing drawers - file drawers. I would turn it off for that. More and more, people are not using filing drawers in their desks so that may become less of a problem. I admit that I did not use it for drawing. I did find it easy to adjust to, and the only real problem for me was a much larger space than the traditional desk. Other wise, Loved It! Suggest you vary the speed until you get used to it.
But for any job that requires accuracy, this just would not work. Think of drafters or graphic designers. Now for writing, you could setup voice recognition. But even that could only be taken so far.