I first heard about the work-desk treadmill back in 2008 from John Medina’s “Brain Rules” book. In a nutshell, moving and exercise improves the way our brain works and we get better work done if we are physically moving while we are working. It has been six months since I’ve actually made this idea a reality. A good friend had emailed me at the beginning of the year saying that he was planning on putting this together himself.
I suddenly realized that I didn’t want to wait another five years knowing about this amazing vision and not implement it. So I organized myself, planned it and built it. Since then, I have been walking at least five miles a day while working alone. In the past, I would have gone for exercise between work, now I sit to rest in between doing work! This has been hands down, one of the best investments I have ever made. And it doesn’t have to be a large investment at all if you are a bit resourceful. Believe it or not, this set-up cost me less than $150 in total!
The Ikea Fredrik desk is perfect for setting up a standing workstation. And it has a great compartment under for storing the cables. You can find one on craigslist for under $50. Of course, if you are sharing the desk with someone, then you would need an option to lower the height with a latch or some built-in mechanism, which would increase the budget. Finding Treadmill was the trickiest part. You can easily just invest a few hundred dollars and buy a new walking treadmill, or you can look around for a used one. It took me about a month of searching before I found someone selling their treadmill for $80. I spent a couple of days of planning and measuring how to geometrically incorporate the treadmill under the work desk. Initially I thought I would disconnect the control board from the treadmill and control it directly from the top of the desk, but with a bit of measuring, the mechanisms ended up tucking perfectly underneath the desk. Another important step was to put some padding under the treadmill to reduce any noise carrying into the floor, just to be mindful of neighbors. I did this by using yoga cushion seats. Adding the nice curtain to cover all the electronics under was the final touch.
Remember to set it all up so that it supports a proper posture! Elbows by your side, hands resting under a 90˚ angle and monitor leveled to your eyes. Now, If you are wondering whether it feels “weird” to walk and type while looking at the screen, it doesn’t. I got used to it within my first few steps. They were small steps for a man, but a giant leap for the body. It keeps me fresh, I never zone out, get sleepy or lose concentration when working.
The movement keeps the brain fully stimulated and I can go for hours working away. It is not until I’ve experienced this that I realized the benefits of having it. Especially if you have neck or back problems from sitting long hours, at least get yourself a standing workstation. Or if you never get to find time to exercise, this one solves that problem by default. It just automatically starts creating the habit of exercise within you. Talk to the people at your workplace about implementing these in your office. Put one in your home office. This set-up can only reap benefits, you get healthier while becoming more productive at getting work done.
As I like to put it: you kill two flies with one swat.
I will leave you with Medina’s entertaining and informative video on all this:
Thanks for reading and happy walking! 🙂