Software Quality

January 16, 2012

Diary of a Treadmill Desk User

Filed under: Health and Exercise — Tags: — David Allen @ 7:21 pm

Saturday, December 31, 2011
A couple of weeks ago, I got an e-mail from 2nd Wind Fitness, advertising a treadmill desk. I stopped in to their store and they had a model on display. I dragged my laptop out of the trunk of my car and I walked on it for over a half an hour while I read and answered my e-mails and surfed the Internet. It felt like it would work so I ordered one. 

Yesterday, the people from 2nd Wind Fitness delivered my new LifeSpan treadmill desk. This was my Christmas present to myself. I hope to keep a diary of the experience an share it with other people. What were my motivations? I’m a computer junkie. I work on the computer all day long. And then I come home and play on the computer all night long. I’m sure I’m just a freak of nature. I doubt any of you could possibly relate to such a bizarre lifestyle.

Anyway, there has been a lot of research in the news lately about how bad it is for us to sit down for long periods of time. It doesn’t matter whether you’re reading an exciting novel, or watching an entertaining television show, or playing on the computer, or playing a videogame. Apparently, sitting down for us is hazardous to our health. I already have a regular exercise routine. So I’ve made a lifelong commitment to my health and follow through pretty well. But apparently, that annoying research shows that even people who have a regular exercise program can suffer ill health effects if they are sedentary for long periods of the day. Therefore, I decided to do something about it. Give up programming or surfing for Internet news? You must be crazy! I was not about to actually stop being addicted to the computer. Instead, my desperate solution was to get a treadmill desk so I could stay on my beloved computer, source of all knowledge, fount of wisdom. But at least I would be moving.

My initial impressions were very favorable. First, at the kind of slow walking speeds I will be using while typing or reading, the treadmill is extremely quiet. And it does not hum or vibrate. One of the nice things about this particular model is that the pedestal desk is physically separated from the treadmill so that the vibrations of the treadmill are not transmitted to the desktop. The desk is also very wide and sturdy. It is about 4 feet wide and a little over 2 feet deep. It has more than enough space for my large 30 inch monitor, keyboard and mouse, mug filled with cool water, cell phone, a stack of paper to scribble on etc. A very modest control panel is attached to the edge of the desk nearest to the user. It can tell me how long I have been walking on the treadmill, how many steps I’ve taken, how many calories are burned, and the distance I have traveled as well as the speed. I must say that I love the minimalist design of the control panel. It has exactly the things I want and not a single thing more. It is extremely simple and easy to use. I wish car stereos were designed that way.

I spent a couple of hours on it on Saturday. But after a while my legs were sore.

Sunday, January 1, 2012.
This is my third day using the product, and I’m getting accustomed to it. I probably spent over four hours walking on the treadmill and messing around on the computer. At various intervals I would wash clothes, wash dishes, and do my ordinary weekend housecleaning. But I eventually noticed that my legs were sore again.

Monday, January 2, 2012
Man are my legs sore! There are several little areas around my knees that hurt. I’m beginning to think I made a big mistake buying this treadmill desk. It suddenly occurs to me that the purchase may have a positive unintended consequence. Instead of working on the computer for endless hours of my life, my sore legs may force me to limit my time on the computer (SHOCK and HORROR). Oh well, that wouldn’t be such a bad thing. So now I find that I’m a bit more deliberate about the time I spend at the computer in order to protect my legs.

Sunday, January 8, 2012
I still use the treadmill desk. Just like an alcoholic cannot set down the bottle, nor can the junkie put away the needle, neither can I stay away from my computer. Fortunately, my legs are starting to feel better. I went out to brunch with some friends of mine. My friend Bruce, who is a marathon runner around my age, told me that the pain will probably pass. He explained that my body was just adjusting to some unusual motions. I think he is right. I take a very small amount of ibuprofen and I do try (well, I sort of try) to be reasonable about the amount of time I spend on the treadmill desk (ok, I don’t make any effort to resist at all), and I can tell that my legs are getting better. It is clear that some of the muscles and connective tissue are being used in ways that are unfamiliar.
I am 52 years old, and that probably contributes. The body parts just don’t work quite like they used to. Oh, they still work, they just need a little more tender loving care to work properly.

Based on my experience so far, I would caution people who are extremely overweight or who have problems with their feet or legs or back. I’m not saying you shouldn’t get one. I’m just saying that you should give it some careful thought. Perhaps they will invent a recumbent bicycle desk (ooh, I need one of those too!)

It would be a little bit easier for a person who had a laptop computer. They could put it on the treadmill desk for 30 min. Then they could move the laptop to a desk where they could sit down and have a plate of chocolate chip cookies and milk while they play the latest computer games. (Just kidding).

If you do decide to get one of these, it would be good to limit your use on the device initially until your body can gradually become accustomed to the new motions.

Sunday, January 15, 2012
It has now been over two weeks since I started using the treadmill desk. I no longer have any problems with my knees. So my friend Bruce appears to have been correct that it was just a matter of my muscles and joints getting accustomed to the new exercise. I had a brief period this week during which I had to work sitting down. At first I thought it was a tremendous luxury to be able to work at the computer while sitting quietly. But I find I miss using the treadmill desk, so I have moved my monitor back to the treadmill desk. I’m writing this posting while walking on the treadmill.

I get a lot of questions from people about whether you can type, use a mouse, write with a pen, or read while walking on the treadmill. The answer to all of these is “yes”. And I do all of these during the day. My handwriting suffers a little. However, I want to point out that many of my more lengthy posts or e-mails are created using dictation software. I use a program called Dragon dictate software. I purchased it with the Bluetooth headset that is used to translate my voice into text. I have been using it for several years very successfully. The dictation system is sensitive to extraneous noise. So one of my big concerns was whether I would be able to continue to use the dictation system while walking on the treadmill. I am relieved to be able to tell you that all of these posts have been produced using the DragonDictate system while walking on the LifeSpan treadmill. This is a big deal for me because years ago I discovered I was experiencing pain in my wrists and hands due to overuse. Imagine that! I spend 8 to 12 hours a day behind the computer typing and mousing and my hands hurt? Anyway, enough sarcasm. The dictation system has been really valuable or reducing the amount of time I am typing. So I’m extremely pleased that it works. If you use a dictation system, it is important to get a treadmill desk that is quiet during normal operation. Normally I’m walking .5 to.9 miles/hr. The treadmill begins to get slightly noisier at higher speeds. I wonder whether the dictation system still works well with these higher speeds? In fact, I will do a little experiment for you right now.

This sentence is dictated while I am walking at .5 mi./h.
This sentence was dictated while walking at .9 mi./h.
This sentence was dictated while walking at 1.5 mi./h.
This sentence was dictated while walking 2 mi./h.
This sentence was dictated by walking 2.5 mi./h.
This sentence was dictated while walking 3 mi./h.
This sentence was dictated while walking 3.5 mi./h.
This sentence was dictated while walking 4.0 mi./h.
I think that is enough. I have no intention of dictating while walking at 4 mi./h.

In summary, I really like the treadmill desk. I use it for a few hours every evening after I get home from work and sometimes several hours on a weekend depending on what activities are going on. I don’t have experience with what it would be like in a workplace setting, being used up to eight or nine hours a day. If any of you have that experience, let me know.

For now, I’m done with my treadmill desk diary. If anyone has questions, I will be glad to respond. Otherwise,perhaps I will post again in the future.

7 Comments »

  1. Does the walking deck fold up? This seems like maybe too big of a space commitment for our little house. It really would be ideal for a laptop user if you could stand working on a laptop for 4 hours a day.

    Comment by Uriah — January 19, 2012 @ 8:41 am

  2. No. The deck is a standalone walking platform. It could be moved by two people, but it is too sturdy and heavy to do that routinely. It basically takes over a 4 ft x 6 ft plot of your home.

    Comment by David Allen — January 19, 2012 @ 9:19 am

  3. […] of you who read my original diary  https://codecontracts.info/2012/01/16/diary-of-a-treadmill-desk-user/  will recall that I initially experienced some discomfort in my knees. That discomfort is a […]

    Pingback by Update from a Treadmill Desk User « Software Quality — February 13, 2012 @ 10:14 pm

  4. will you write how it is now?

    Comment by YvesHanoulle — September 5, 2012 @ 3:48 am

    • I’m glad you posted a question. I was sitting down at my desk reading it. But since you asked about the treadmill desk , I felt guilty and so I moved my keyboard to the treadmill desk (grin). I still use the treadmill, but I am lazy. So I often sit down on my other desk. Notice that the keyboard and mouse are wireless. This allows me to move the keyboard and mouse from the treadmill desk to the other table quickly and easily.

      I have discovered that if I type on it for a long time sometimes my arms start to tingle. This could be because of the angle of my elbows. I may want to lower the desk a little bit. As I have mentioned before, if somebody did a lot of typing they would probably be happier using the dictation software. I’m actually using the DragonDictate 12 as I write this reply.

      Now that I have used the desk for a while, I can comment on two situations where it is really handy: 1) if I’m watching a training video. It might be an hour long. This is an excellent use because I don’t have to type or use the mouse very much. I can set whatever speed I like, and simply enjoy the watching the training video while I walk. 2) when I’m reading a book on my Kindle software for the PC. I read somewhere that if you sit down a lot it is bad for your health and lifespan. I believe I cited the articles in an earlier post. They say it doesn’t matter whether you are sitting down and working or sitting down and reading a book or sitting down and watching TV. With the treadmill desk I can watch a movie on Netflix or watch a training video or read my favorite book using Kindle for the PC software and I can be taking a stroll at the same time. It may not be as relaxing as taking a stroll in the sunshine, but it is probably a lot better for me than just sitting down.

      Comment by David Allen — September 5, 2012 @ 7:42 am

  5. […] Update: Other options would be to have a treadmill desk. Read a diary of one user here. […]

    Pingback by What box are you in? | Yves Hanoulle — September 14, 2012 @ 4:10 am

  6. I also love the treadmill desk, it’s healthier, but you are also more productive and more creative whilst walking, according to recent PLOS ONE research. I can recommend the Treadmill desk to anyone who is sitting more than 7 hours a day. If you are living in South Africa, there is currently only 1 provider, but I am sure more will follow. LifeSpan is sold by http://walkandwork.co.za

    Comment by walkandworkza — May 16, 2014 @ 7:43 am


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