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Are treadmill desks really viable?

Commented on April 09, 2014
Created April 07, 2014 at 12:20 PM

I'm sure you've all seen articles stating the negative effects associated with sitting for long periods of time, even to the point of chairs being labeled as 'silent killers'. Also almost counter-intutively things like standing in a static position for long periods of time seems to have negative effects, even rivaling the deadly chair. The only alternative seems to be forsake the almighty computer, or find some way to mitigate the negative effects associated with using it. The trendy solution seems to be treadmill desks, I'm wondering how viable they actually are in terms of actually being able to do work while walking, that seems like it could be quite awkward.

So my questions are:

1. Is it possible to actually be productive while using a treadmill desk beyond just simple reading?

2. Sound wise, how obnoxious would this be? I imagine the sound alone could be interuptive to focus and productivity.

3. Would a manual treadmill work? I'm inclined to this option as it's both cheaper and quieter, I'm not sure about the challenges this may pose to walking or the actual quality of the treadmills.( All manual treadmills seem to have horrible reviews? )

Disclaimer: Haven't ever really used a treadmill, and not at all in the past decade+7.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on April 09, 2014
at 07:53 PM

yeah I definitely agree with that. As I said, reading, telecons, typing is pretty easily done on a treadmill desk. But I have a hard time doing critical thinking tasks on the treadmill.

Generally the treadmill is going so slowly (.5-1.5 mph) that there is virtually no head bobbing -- but it's still not very condusive to deep thinking.

F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on April 09, 2014
at 02:55 PM

For me, hard to concentrate on certain tasks while "walking"...head bobbing, generalized movement (for me) is incompatible with my kind of thinking / work. YMMV

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on April 09, 2014
at 10:57 AM

Agree that they are unnecessary, but why do you believe they are unworkable?

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3 Answers

0
8fc1d7a8dc2318f960450a0de632bfe6

on April 09, 2014
at 02:38 PM

I haven't tried a treadmill desk, but my thoughts are that for most professions they would be impractical for all the reasons you state.

I do Accounts Payable, so lots of data entry. I switched to a standing desk and have found it to be great. I make sure to incorporate lots of movement by alternating my data entry with other job requirements like filing and making copies and I try to take a quick walk on my lunch break. I also park far away and have my home computer set up on a tall desk so I also don't sit at home. I think the standing desk is way more practical, affordable and you get rid of the nasty side effects of sitting all day.

0
F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on April 09, 2014
at 05:30 AM

At the risk of being 'non responsive'.... based on YEARS of experience as both a desk bound & an "on my feet most of the day" engineer, I can attest that sitting is murder on the low back as evidenced by my results and echoed by my ortho.

I think a treadmill desk is unnecessary & unworkable.

Where's your data that a standing desk is a problem?

Seth Roberts (former UC Berkeley prof) wrote about standing desks... the benefit comes from stressing your large muscles.

http://blog.sethroberts.net/2010/05/04/better-thinking-by-standing/

Another "non-traditional" alternative to regular sitting is a properly sized exercise ball... stresses your legs & core.

I found that standing was much easier on my back than sitting. I'm still alive and in decent shape (but that's probably due to clean eating) YMMV

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on April 09, 2014
at 10:57 AM

Agree that they are unnecessary, but why do you believe they are unworkable?

0
3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on April 08, 2014
at 08:56 PM

I have a treadmill and a bike on a trainer that I use occasionally when I work from home. They work great if you are reading, typing, or on a phone call. They tend not to be very good for demanding cognitive tasks. You go really slow -- so it is not like you get out of breath or are bouncing too much -- I actually find that they make boring meetings more tolerable.

My trainer puts out more noise than my treadmill, but neither are particularly noisy -- and if I am on a phone call I will be on mute if I am not talking.

I would think that a manual treadmill would not work -- they are crap and get stuck all the time. Also they require quite a bit of effort to get them going -- the point of a treadmill desk is to move without really thinking about it.

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