Stepping It Up: My Day on a Treadmill Desk

If you work a desk job, you’ve likely heard the news that sitting will most likely be the cause of your eventual demise.

Since I log a lot of chair time at work, I’ve been obsessing a little bit over increasing my total step count. Taking the stairs more often, walking during phone conferences, and short strolls on lunch have all helped, but there are still days I fall short of hitting 10,000 steps.

I'm on a treadmill desk!
I’m on a treadmill desk!

Enter treadmill desks. In my downtown Grand Rapids office, we have two set up in the cafeteria. I’d noticed them before, but hadn’t seriously considered them as a realistic way to fit more activity into the work day. Still, with a new baby at home, I was open to fitting in fitness in new ways and decided to give it a shot.

After forging ever so slowly ahead for a day, here’s why I plan to incorporate a few treadmill desk sessions into my work week moving forward.

  • I felt really focused. I’d assumed it would be distracting to work while my feet were in constant motion, but I was pleasantly surprised. I liked it best when I was working on editing other people’s writing and not working on my own. Participating on conference calls was another great way to walk and work and nobody was the wiser. If you have tasks that require less brain power, such as responding to emails or conducting research, those might be ideal times to move while you work.
  • I obliterated my daily step goal. Excluding offsite meetings, breaks, restroom stops, and eating lunch, I spent about five hours walking 1.5 miles per hour. At the end of the day, I’d covered 6.72 miles and logged 18,002 steps! While working at a treadmill desk isn’t the same as getting in a good workout, it’s definitely better than nothing. Studies about the health benefits of treadmill desks have been mixed, although some have shown moderate improvements.
  • I was sore the next day. I didn’t expect such slow movement to have any sort of effect on my physique, but if my hobbling gait the next day is any indication, it could definitely help tighten and tone my gams with regular sessions.

Will working on a treadmill desk make me better at my job? Maybe not. In fact, a small study last year showed that working on a treadmill could lead to lower cognition and decreased typing ability, although researchers acknowledged that both could improve if a worker got used to the constant motion, which is something I’m willing to try.

Could you do your job in motion? It might not be ideal for every task, but if you have access to one, try a treadmill desk out for a day and see if it helps you reach your fitness and activity goals. If you’re a treadmill desk user, share your tips in the comments.   

Photo credit: KOMUnews


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