Guide to Treadmill Desks, the Healthier Workspace

Many of us who work in front of our computer all day have experienced or regularly experience the odd feeling of being exhausted from sitting all day. That strange lethargic feeling accompanied with lower back pain, tired arms, leg cramps, and stiff neck, or just plain tired. This may seem odd as we are not moving a lot, except for our eyes that stares at the monitor and fingers that presses the keyboard. Believe it or not, this kind of inactivity is causing a lot of stress to our body, which results to fatigue. There had been tons of studies that show the dangers of sitting for long periods of time, and how prolonged sitting can shorten our livesDual Monitors Guide doesn’t only advocate comfortable and ergonomic work environment, but more importantly healthy work solutions.

Sedentary lifestyle is proven to be dangerous to our health in whole lots of ways, both short term and long term. Standing desks and sit-stand desks, give users the benefits of both worlds and counteract the negative effects of prolonged sitting through encouraging standing. However, some people find simply standing in front of their computer not enough to keep them active, this is where treadmill desks get into the picture. In this entry of Dual Monitors Guide , we will talk about some important things you need to know about treadmill desks.

(image from Amazon)

That Stubborn Lethargic Feeling We Get from Sitting

When working in an office environment, a suggestion to climb up and down the stairs, brisk walk from your desk to the pantry to get a cup of coffee, and stretching often, will help alleviate some of the symptoms and discomfort. However, as soon as we get back to our station to work, the feeling of sluggishness comes back.


The 5-Mile Rule

In theory, a treadmill desk is a good idea to stay active – walking on a slow pace as you work on your computer. That’s hitting two birds with one stone, as you get your work done and burn calories and stay healthy at the same time.


The Surgeon General recommends walking 10,000 steps, or 5 miles per day to keep the body healthy. But it’s no secret that large number of people working in office environment doesn’t follow this rule, at least in America. As a matter of fact, research shows that an average American walks less than half of the 5-mile rule. This, along with sedentary lifestyle, is one of the many causes of obesity and all health problems related to it. The idea of treadmill desks is to encourage everyone, even those in office environment, to follow the 5-mile-walk-per-day rule. Walking (along with jogging and running) is the simplest form of exercise that any abled person can do.


The idea of walking while working on your desk can be really intimidating at first, and there are lots of questions that gets into our head when we hear this idea for the first time, such as how are we going to concentrate and become more creative or productive, etc.  Dr. Chuck Hillman from the University of Illinois showed a very compelling image of the brain (through MRI scan) that relates to the synergy between mental and physical health.

(source: Dr. Chuck Hilman, University of Illinois

The image shows that after a 20-minute walk, the brain activity increases, and the same type of activity is associated with happiness. Results showed us a good reminder of how exercising our body can help reinvigorate our brain.


How to Transition from Traditional Desk to Walking Desk

(image from Amazon)

Slowly But Surely

In the case of treadmill desk, it is imperative that you should never overdo the exercise. Even if you’re an active, physically fit, a regular jogger or accomplished runner, walking while working is a special kind of multitasking that you are not used to do. The key here is to find your rhythm, balance, and the right speed to be able to do two things at once. Writing (typing on your keyboard) for instance requires slower pace compared to talking on a phone. Typing while walking takes some getting used to, but after a couple of hours or more, it will become second nature.

(image from Amazon)

Your health and safety is another important thing to consider when switching from traditional desk to a treadmill desk. Thus, it is important that rather than hopping on to the treadmill and walk for hours, you should gradually teach your body to multitask, little by little increase your walking sessions, and set realistic expectations with your abilities and limits considered. Of course, it goes without saying that you should consult your physician before you make the switch.


Think Ergonomic

(image from Amazon)

Also, you should know that walking is very different from standing, and this means re-adjusting your computer setup, particularly your monitor(s), keyboard and mouse, document holders, and various computer peripherals you have in your workstation to avoid any accident and make way for a more ergonomic and safer setup. Walking will keep your body moving, and this may cause discomfort when working on your computer. You may not notice it, but keeping your neck, arms and wrists in the same awkward position for an extended period of time, will expose you to risks of hurting yourself. Finding your ergonomic setup will require some trial and error. Take your time re-adjusting these things and you will be off for a great walk. The body follows the head, so for better ergonomics, make sure you set your monitor at eye level.

(image from Amazon)

Take Breaks

As much as you get up and walk around to take break from sitting at a desk, you also need to sit down and rest from walking and working in your treadmill desk. Your mind and body needs a few minutes to relax and get back on your work again to be more productive. If your office allows its employees to nap, then you should always take the opportunity to ‘power nap’. WebMD detailed the surprising benefits of power nap; how it increases memory, creativity, cognitive skills and energy levels, and how it works better than coffee.

If your workplace doesn’t allow naps, then the best thing you can do is to take active rests and get moving. You can do office stretching exercises to keep your muscles active and flexible. It is easy to do and it is good for both your mind and body.


It’s May Not Be All Roses

Walking for extended period of time can’t be all roses. Like standing, you may feel pain. Some even complain about inflammation in their first few days of using the desk. The repetitive movement of walking, just like other repetitive movements, also has its downside. Prolonged walking can cause stress to the ankle and foot. And if your ankle and foot are not in good shape in the first place, then treadmill desk can be detrimental to you. This is why consulting your physician is very important.

Alyson Shontell from Business Insider blogged her first experience in the treadmill desk. Her article will give first-time users a good idea of what it is like to work while walking.


Different Types of Treadmill Desks

Though there are plenty of models to choose from, they can all be categorized into three different types: desk built for treadmill, treadmill built for standing desk, and a complete treadmill desk made by a manufacturer. Prices differ from DIY modifications, from as cheap as $20 to as crazy as thousands, depending on the built, materials used, number of features, sophistication, etc.


Bottom Line

(image from Amazon)

It’s no secret that sitting for prolonged period of time is dangerous to our health. Standing desks and sit-stand desks can be enough for some to counteract the negative effects of sedentary lifestyle. For those looking for more activity, treadmill desk is definitely a must-try. New studies show treadmill desk truly improve productivity. If you’re concerned of your long-term health, and you want to try something new, then you better try this one out.

For more information about treadmill desks or other workstation solutions, check out Dual Monitors Guide today!

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