I've been talking about my treadmill desk intermittently on the Healthy Living How To Facebook Page for some time now. Enough so, that it is peaking interest and sparking curiosity. I am getting e-mail requests for more information on my “get-up” just about every day. Suffice it to say, this ain't no fancy “get-up” but just a way I rigged up my already owned treadmill with a desktop that would allow me to work and walk at the same time.
Now before we get to the “how-to” part, let me tell you several of the healthy reasons why you might want to rig one of these up for yourself. First of all Sitting is Killing You! I know that might seem overly dramatic, but really it is.
Sitting is Killing You!
In an article titled Are You Sitting Yourself to Death, author Tom Nikkola, Sr. Dir. of Nutrition and Weight Management at Life Time Weight Loss (he just happens to be my handsome husband), discusses at length how sitting negatively influences health. Tom cites that being sedentary or sitting, is associated with many health risks, including a 112% increase in diabetes risk, 147% increase in cardiovascular disease risk, 90% increased risk in cardiovascular mortality and 49% increased risk of all-cause mortality.
Before you pat yourself on the back for your “gym rat” status, those of us who exercise are not immune to these risks. While exercise is a healthy habit with many benefits, this is not about the one hour a day spent at the gym, but the other 15 hours (assuming 8 hours of sleep). One researcher coined the term “exercising couch potato” to describe those of us who are faithful exercisers but outside of our daily workouts, spend a lot of time sitting. The bottom line is this…long periods of time spent being sedentary is not healthy for any body!
At one time the television was blamed for our lack of movement, however, the truth is, it is not the TV, but our sedentary jobs and lifestyle habits. When scientists compared the lifestyles led by those in the 1800s, a time period when diabetes and obesity were unheard of, versus the modern desk jockey, they found on average we walk about 5 miles less per day which is roughly 10,000 steps, give or take a few.
Which leads right into what most experts agree to be an ideal goal for a healthy lifestyle, walk 10,000 steps per day. It doesn’t stop there, though, in fact Dr. John Berardi, founder of Precision Nutrition believes “when people increase their level of basic movement, in conjunction with doing a few hours per week of purposeful high intensity exercise (like strength training and perhaps some sprint work), the magic starts to happen.” This magic he is referring to is lower body weight, less body fat and improved health, taking healthy nutrition into account.
If you need more convincing, that to be your healthiest self, you must figure out a way to get more movement in your day, check out this article titled: How Moving More May Save Your Life!
Before we get to my treadmill desk, it is important to note, you can’t change that which you don’t measure. I wear a Fitbit One; this little gadget is a modern-day pedometer that gives you instant feedback on your daily activity level (including sleep). It is wireless and syncs effortlessly with your computer or smart phone. If you have an active job, you might already be getting in 10,000 steps a day, however, that would mean you are an exception and not the rule. According to studies done that measure activity levels, 65% of Americans say they are “active” when in reality only 5% of the population is actually active. Get yourself a Fitbit One by clicking HERE and start measuring your activity.
How To Make Your Own Treadmill Desk
Captain Obvious here, to make your own treadmill desk, you are going to need a treadmill. We purchased our treadmill 5-6 years ago after doing a fair amount of research. We picked our price range and then investigated things like warranty, motor size, weight limit, incline and speed capabilities. We are not runners, but do use the treadmill on occasion for sprint workouts as well as incline walking to get the heart rate up. If you do not own a treadmill and want a treadmill desk for just walking and working then I would seriously save my pennies for this beauty.
As you can see my “desk” is just two very heavy pieces of plywood, that sit flush on the arms of the treadmill. For added insurance I placed two 15 lb. dumbbells on each side. I promise this isn't going anywhere. Never once in the past 3+ months of using this has it even wobbled. It just so happens that we had some industrial shelving in our storage room with the plywood shelves. They magically were the perfect fit for our treadmill. Had they not been, I imagine I would have gone to Home Depot or the likes and bought some wood. I eyed up the TrekDesk for some time, but decided to cash in my nice card with Santa for a new camera instead of the high-tech desk.
When I first rigged up my treadmill desk, I just set my laptop directly on the plywood. After a few uses I realized that it was forcing me to look down and hunch over. A heavy box of baseball cards to the rescue. It lifted my laptop up to the perfect height. The screen is right at eye level and my arms are extended straight out from my shoulders. I am sure an ergonomic expert would tell me I have room for improvement, but let me tell you, if you saw how bad my posture was when sitting on the sofa and working, this is a vast improvement. The weight from the box of cards is added stability insurance.
When I first started working at my treadmill desk my computer would short out. I figured out quickly that I was “shocking” my laptop when I touched the metal on the built-in mousepad. I tried all sorts of funky ways to ground myself and none of them worked. Enter in a wireless mouse. That fixed the problem immediately. Other than the mouse, I usually have my stainless steel water bottle and I am off to the races.
Back to being Captain Obvious again, now that my treadmill desk is all rigged up it is time to get to work! Today I walked at an incline of 2% and a speed of 2.5 mph. My incline is almost always set to 2% and my speed varies from 2.5-3.5 mph depending on how sore my legs are from my strength training workouts. This blog post, from start to finish, which included editing pictures, yielded me 8.28 miles and 19,867 steps. Yeehaw!!!!