My regular cardio routine fell apart in December, for a variety of reasons (the weather, illness, holidays, etc, etc.). This was: unacceptable. Not just because of the cardio benefits (although those are important too), but exercise has improved my life in so many ways that my quality of life actually goes noticeably down if I go too long without it.
I can’t believe I’m the kind of person who would write that sentence either, but it’s completely the truth.
I was reading the Writers Cafe at the KBoards (as I am wont to do), and there was a discussion about treadmill desks. Which I’d heard of before but always sounded kind of wacky. This time, however, it sounded like a great idea. Many people had pre-made desks, and some were do-it-yourselfers who took treadmill A and added desk unit B and made themselves a treadmill desk.
I am not crafty. I bought the LifeSpan 1200RT.
Mind you, I didn’t have the room in my office (I had to shove a whole bunch of boxes out — they’re all over the guest room now) and I had to rearrange the furniture that was in there. But I made the room and installed the desk.
I bought a stand for my MacBook Air to sit on and I brought one of Darin’s old iMacs out of storage to use as an external monitor.
I probably walk for five to six miles a day while at my desk and the best thing about it is, I don’t even think about it. This is exercise I’m getting on top of my running routine and weights at the gym. The key is not to walk fast or try to get exercise (I don’t even know what the top speed on my treadmill is; I’ve never set it over 2.0 miles an hour), but use a nice strolling speed, like you might use walking around town, and use your computer. Like you’re gonna be doing anyhow.
This is one of the best investments I have ever made in my entire life.
Not only do I get more exercise throughout the day, but I feel better now after a couple of hours at the computer than I did after sitting for a long time. I have terrible posture when sitting and I stand up straight when walking. Also, sitting too much reportedly might lead to an earlier death. Plus, I’ve been sleeping a whole hell of a lot better.
I write, I surf, I chat with friends, I watch videos (check out the headphones in that picture). I have a little fan on my old, sadly neglected desk to keep me cool, even on the coldest days, because walking for a long time makes you sweaty. I’ve had phone conversations while walking.
The key thing to remember is to start slow. It is weird to type and walk, at first. Pick a low speed and work up to whatever feels comfortable. I’ve read a few blog entries where people report walking at 1.0 miles an hour — I can’t do that, much too slow — or working at 2.5 miles an hour (I’d fall over). I do everything at 1.7-2.0 mph.
If you’re trying to figure out how many calories you’ve burned, the rule of thumb is 100 calories per mile. Of course, this isn’t exactly right: it’s 110 calories per mile for guys, 90 calories per mile for women. (Yup, it’s everywhere, girls.) So when Jonathan Fields reports burning 600 calories over 4 hours of walking while going 1mph…well, that’s not what my math says. But he’s definitely getting more exercise than if he were just sitting there.
Why do I still run if I’m doing several miles a day on my desk? Again, I’m not working hard while on this thing, I’m just strolling. Couldn’t you stroll around a shopping center for hours and hours? I doubt my heart rate ever gets over 120 while using it. It’s just that I’m just doing it for hours. Running is still my intensive cardio, to boost my heart rate, to really work the muscles, and to get that lactic acid going. Also, to get some fresh air and maybe some Vitamin D.
More exercise >> less, every time.
Honestly, if you’re thinking about doing it and you can swing it, DO IT. The only downside is now I want to spend too much time in my office.
Some people are crafty do-it-yourselfers. They either repurpose the clothes storage unit they bought a few years ago or buy one cheap on Craigslist and made a desk out of it using something like an add-on or their own homemade plywood contraption. The only warning I’ve heard against this is that heavy-duty treadmills built for running have more powerful motors that aren’t built to run for hours at a time at low speeds, and therefore might be more prone to burn out than a treadmill especially designed for daily walking. On the other hand, you weren’t using that thing to begin with, now were you?
The only downside of doing this is that you become a cult member, trying to convince the rest of the planet that they’re missing out. Which they are. And let’s face it, with all of these extra endorphins in my bloodstream, all I can think about is happiness now. Don’t you want in on that?
(Wait. There is one more downside: I want to spend way too much time in my office now. Though, given how much writing I’ve been getting done, maybe that’s not so bad. I kinda wish I had one of these things in the living room to use while watching TV, though.)