A year ago I drastically changed the way I work when I built a DIY treadmill desk in my office. Building the desk was a quick, somewhat secretive operation. I was embarrassed to tell even my employers my crazy idea. I thought, “Just build it and explain it later.” The only people who knew about my crazy idea were my brother who helped me pick up the treadmill and my wife. After walking and working on a treadmill desk for a year it is a normal concept at the office and among those who know me.
Walking and working has completely changed the way I work. I no longer need an afternoon soda to give me a “jolt” of energy to get through the afternoon lull. The slow and steady walking pace, combined with being up out of a chair, keep my blood pumping and the creative juices flowing. I personally believe I have had more creative ideas in the last year than in previous years of office working.
I haven’t logged every mile of walking and working but I know the average work week consists of 20 miles of walking. So over the last year I have logged approximately 1,000 miles on my treadmill desk. The single piece of advice I would offer – wear great shoes! I have written before about my love of the Merrell Olmec and it continues to be my shoe of choice for walking and working.
I am commonly asked if I lost much weight while walking and working. The somewhat surprising answer is no. I dropped a few pounds early on when I made the change, and they have stayed gone, but no dramatic weight loss. I have lost two inches in my waist size and noticed a general toning in my body that would not have occurred if I were slumped in an office chair like a sack of potatoes.
The desk itself has held up very well. My $75 Craigslist treadmill has worked consistently, except for one week where it stopped working after an electrical storm here in town. I operate the treadmill at a 2.0 incline and in the 1.2 to 1.8 mph speed range. I have found out through some user questions on my DIY treadmill desk site that some major manufacturers of commercial treadmill desks are watching my exploits with skepticism.
A DIYTreadmillDesk.com reader was told that standard treadmills weren’t built to operate at slow speeds for extended times and they (the manufacturer) would be surprised if my treadmill even lasted a year. My response, based only on personal experience, was that even if I did burn up a treadmill a year it would take 13 years of $75 treadmills from Craigslist to equal the $1000 entry-level treadmill the manufacturer offers. To be fair, after a year of walking and working, I would consider buying a real treadmill desk walking unit, but I wouldn’t have risked $1000 to see if walking and working was for me. The wood components have performed flawlessly after I adjusted my design in the first few weeks.
With time and experience I have learned that too much of a good thing can be bad. I have days where i walk and work 8 or 9 miles. That is fine every once in a while but several lengthy back to back sessions can leave the walking worker achy and fatigued. Proper stretching at the beginning, during, and at the end of the day have helped. Taking a break from walking has also helped. I have a $2 stool my Dad picked up at a garage sale that I set on the treadmill surface when I need a break. I also have my standard desk on the other side of the office.
Another huge factor for walking and working success has been increasing my water intake. I used to struggle to even finish one bottle of water during a work day. Now I consume between 60 and 80 oz. of water a day. Staying properly hydrated is important whether you are sitting or walking and working.
I still get teased a bit because of my DIY treadmill desk, but overall everyone has adjusted to my unique working style. The topic has been so popular on this blog that I built DIYTreadmillDesk.com to provide more information about how to build a desk and other information specific to walking and working. Did you know that stores selling walking and standing desks are starting to pop up in different places across the country?
Here’s to another productive and creative year of walking and working on my DIY treadmill desk!