My Treadmill Desk

My Treadmill Desk

My treadmill desk is up and running!

Never heard of a treadmill desk? Neither had I until a few months ago, when I saw a story on 20/20 that featured Dr. James Levine, a Mayo Clinic obesity researcher in Rochester, Minnesota.

The whole time he was being interviewed he continued to walk on the treadmill, very slowly. He explained the concept of NEAT — non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or the energy spent on physical activities of daily living. Dr. Levine said that 90% of Americans don’t work out regularly and at least half of workers sit in front of a computer most of the day. So most people don’t get enough exercise, as evidenced by our thickening waistlines and ever expanding backends (Ha! There’s a backend you don’t want.)

When you spend most of your waking hours in front of a computer, there’s very little “NEAT” to speak of, unless you make a concerted effort to exercise. That can be tough when you’re a mother and have enough things to do as it is. I always wished I could exercise while I work, and when I saw Dr. Levine being interviewed while walking on a treadmill, I knew immediately that this was the answer.

I went online and found several people that had setup their own treadmill desks. After much thought and debate over whether to get a cheap treadmill, I decided to go for the treadmill that Joe Stirt and Thomas Niccum both use, from Smooth Fitness. It has a lifetime warranty and since I’m going to be on this thing every day, I want something that will last, or have a bulletproof warranty in case it doesn’t. Another guy who built a treadmill desk had used the Smooth 5.15, so I figured that Smooth was the way to go.

I bought the Smooth Fitness 5.25 for $995 and that included delivery. The 5.15 had been discontinued and replaced with the 5.25, although I did find it on ebay for $699, including delivery. I wanted to think about it but when I went back it was gone. So I got the 5.25 and now that I have it, I’m glad I got this model instead. The treadmill platform is about 8 inches longer than on the 5.15 and when I’m walking my feet end up about 5 inches from end of the belt. So if I’d gotten the 5.15 it may have been too short.

Next, I had to decide on a laptop. This took longer because I couldn’t decide whether to get a cheapie or a desktop replacement. Finally I decided to go for something that I could use for a few hours a day and not think of it as a desktop replacement since I’ll alternate between my regular desk and the treadmill desk. I ended up getting an HP Pavilion DV8309 from Fry’s, with a really cool docking station.

Even before buying the laptop I had found the perfect way to mount it to the treadmill — the leaf insert from our dining table fit perfectly over the treadmill rails. There’s a handle that protrudes slightly and the leaf fits snugly under it so there’s no wobble, and even if a kid leans on it, it stays put. It worked out perfectly, couldn’t have planned it better. It’s as though it was built for being part of the treadmill desk.

At first we setup the treadmill on the other side of my desk, on the right side of my office, but from a usability standpoint it really needed to be a few steps from my desk so I could go back and forth easily. So we re-arranged things and placed it a few feet from my chair so that it became an integral part of my office.

Ok, so last Saturday I woke up determined to buy a laptop. No more thinking about it, reading reviews, pondering prices. I was going to Fry’s to buy a laptop. The DV8309 was sturdy enough for part-time work and was on sale for $799 (after a $50 rebate). With docking station and sales tax it ended up being around $1,250.

I wasn’t sure I needed the docking station (it was $250!), but turned out to be a wise purchase because it allowed me to move the screen up about 8 inches higher than it would have if it was just sitting on the table. Which would have been about 8 inches too low. It also included speakers, a wireless keyboard, and wireless mouse. Really cool.

Anyway, got it all setup and it worked perfectly. Every day I walk while checking my email, listening to audios, watching DVDs, listening to conference calls, talking on the phone…all the stuff I do at my regular desk. The time just flies and before I know it, I’ve done 2 or 3 miles. It’s so much better than schlepping over the gym. When I get tired of sitting on my butt, I get up, take 2 steps, and I’m walking while working.

Today I’ve done over 12,000 steps, more than 5 miles and it’s not even 6 p.m. And I feel great! Will post updates in the future…

Here’s an article about Dr. Levine