Treadmill desk

Treadmill workstation view 2

photo by Joe Hover


Over the last couple of years there has been some research into negative effects sedentary lifestyle. Lack of exercise and spending many hours at desk sitting results in a lot of negative side effects. Some that have been identified include growing waist size, slowing down of the digestion processes, increased risk of cardiovascular problems and diabetes due to dropping insulin levels, raised cholesterol and bad posture.

A Poor Solution

Different ideas have been popping up to counter this problem. One of such ideas is a treadmill desk. A treadmill desk as you can easily guess is a combination of a treadmill and desk where you force your self to walk while you’re working. It maybe a cool little, (big if you consider the size of things hack) but I’m very sceptical over the actual benefits and practicality of this solution. To me it means more work and more time spend at desk staring at a computer.

Let me explain. Lack of exercise is one aspect of the situation, it’s maybe true  that you’re not getting enough of it but there are other elements too. Yet stepping away from your desk is necessary for brain to rest, take a break and release the tensions of mental activities.

Half work – At treadmill desk you half work, your body is in constant motion so you need more energy to keep your focus on the computer screen, document you’re reading etc. If you try to think through a complex issue and you’re constantly moving your mind will wander off and it will take you longer to find a solution.

Half exercise – in order to keep yourself relatively stable your maximum speed will be 1-2 miles per hour at most. At this speed your movement will be very limited and resemble rocking rather than actual motion. Sure you will burn more calories and get your blood flowing bit faster but you can reduce many health risk by creating healthy eating habits like reducing your portions and sugar intake.

Expensive – $500 for a plastic platform over the treadmill and the treadmill itself which maybe between $300-$1500  it’s steep ask for something that has 

You will miss

There are few other things you’re missing by staying bound to your desk for more and more hours and swapping proper exercise for treadmill desk.

Fresh air – You simply need it, there are scents, smells, there is wind,  humidity etc. When you spend time in the office all you get is filtered, monitored, “artificial” air. Try to get out into a park, sea front, a field or simply go for a walk in your neighbourhood.

A step away – why best ideas happen when you’re in the shower or walk a dog? It’s simple you are not in your work environment, your brain is switching the gears, there are new impulses coming to it, new connections between neurons are forming hence new ideas happen. If you’re going for treadmill desk you’re choosing to spend more time at work and at your desk surrounded by the same objects. There are no new things that could stimulate your brain.

Discharge & recharge – physical exercise is an excellent way to shed away stress, negative emotions, decompress after a long and intensive day. Your brain gets a rest from all the mental activities. At the same time exercising results in production of different hormones which help you feel better and recharge your batteries. You might be physically tired but mentally your brain caught a break and can start working again.  

I’m sure there will be group of people that will find this solution a one that works. For me this is it not something I would consider as a good approach, you may be increasing the number of hours which you spend in the office but that is not the goal worth pursuing. More important is being effective, creative so that you can do other things you like    .

If you want to know more about dangers of spending a lot of time at your desk here is some of the resources which will give you a good overview of the issue.

Prolonged sitting boosts bad health

Proven side effects of sitting all day

Sitting time and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

Leisure Time Spent Sitting in Relation to Total Mortality in a Prospective Cohort of US Adults

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