Treadmill desks have been regularly used in the workplace since 2007. The advantages are many: increased steps, more calories burned, better circulation, and more overall energy. But there are some disadvantages too, from having to adjust to performing complex tasks while walking, to noise issues in the office.
How popular are walking desks?
It’s hard to get an accurate idea of how many treadmill desks are in use today. To get some idea, we can look at the number of treadmill desks purchased and make assumptions that a good percentage of those units are still in use. According to some estimates, between 400K and 600K treadmill desks were either purchased or built in the United States between 2007 and 2015 — meaning there could be as many as 30K to 70K commercially built treadmill desks being sold worldwide annually.
First-hand accounts – what real users think
Sisters Minessa Konecky and Saira Valley are independent retailers for LuLaRoe and run a thriving, demanding business together. They purchased a treadmill desk a couple of years ago and have experienced some of the same adjustment challenges other users do when they make the switch from sitting to using a walking desk.
Here are their tips if you’re considering walking while working:
- Think about the tasks of your job. “I don’t use it as much as I used to, mostly because I’m always running around. One minute I’m taking pictures of the clothing and the next I’m folding and shipping,” Valley said. “If I was in my old job at a desk doing lots of spreadsheets and reading Word documents, it would be way easier.”
- Make sure you have enough room. “I think treadmill desks are a no-brainer if you have room for the device. Get one that can fold up so it can be out of the way if you need the space,” Valley said. Konecky added, “I was surprised at how BIG it is. It’s like a full-size treadmill, so we had to empty out an entire section of our living room for it.”
- Shop for a sturdy version. The sisters advise thinking about overall sturdiness, as well as ease in putting one together. “I like it; it’s sturdy and I’m not worried about falling off,” Konecky said. “The desk itself is great. I got the white glove treatment to have it put together, so I didn’t have to bother with that.”
- Compare costs. “It’s actually not very expensive; I was shocked to find a really good one for, like, $600 bucks online. It came with a desk attachment — it’s a very cool unit, and I was very impressed. It’s easy to use, good speed, the desk is sturdy, and it folds away nicely,” Valley added. To see costs and compare units online, look for a recent comparison like this one from Stand Up Work Style, which takes a closer look at 2017 treadmill desk reviews and DIY stand up desks.
- Find a working style that works for you. Both Konecky and Valley gave tips as to how they approach using a treadmill desk. “It’s funny, I get on it all dressed up in LuLaRoe so I’m in the right frame of mind — I’m in a dress or skirt and sneakers so I can still do meetings and talk to customers. I find that’s the best way to work and walk is when I’m doing meetings on videos,” Valley said. Her sister and business partner Konecky agrees. “Since a lot of our business is online, it worked amazing for the times we’d upload pictures of the clothing, save them, and handle parties. It’s very quiet, but it can be distracting to use while I’m talking to customers.”
- Consider your level of commitment. “I think the most important thing, as with anything, is that you have to commit to using it,” Valley said. “If a person can commit to doing even a little bit every day, it’s more than nothing, so I’d recommend using a treadmill desk to anyone!” Konecky seconded her sister, saying, “I used it pretty much every day for a month, hit all my steps, and the only reason I’m not using it now is all me, nothing with the treadmill itself. At the moment, it sits in the corner, a painful reminder of what I’m NOT doing!”
- Watch where you walk. If you are prone to falling or tripping, a treadmill desk might not be the best choice for you, Valley added. “Yeah, so I tried to package and ship clothing while on the treadmill — it was comical! I think I almost died about four times, but hey, I had to try!” Konecky agrees with the coordination issue. “I have trouble talking and walking, which isn’t something I discovered until I got the treadmill desk, so I use it less than I thought I would just because I talk so much with my work!” she added.
Inspired, but no spare cash? Try making your own treadmill desk!
Ingenuity and consistency go a long way when setting up any new process to improve your health. Andy Jewell, a telecommuter with Alexa Internet, took matters into his own hands and built a walking desk for his use six years ago. Jewell is based in Cincinnati and Alexa is based in San Francisco, California, so he’s able to set up his home office work environment in a way that works best for him.
“I didn’t do a lot of research on treadmill desks before jumping in,” Jewell said. “I shop at woot.com and one day their special was a treadmill from Smooth Fitness. Around the same time six years ago, I had just gotten a Fitbit and read about how too much sitting will kill you. So, I threw a regular cardboard box up for a desk and put my laptop on it.”
Jewell has tracked his statistics over the past few years as he’s used the walking desk, and his numbers and dedication are impressive! “I now actively take 20,000 steps a day; It’s hard to say how many I took before. Overall, I’ve logged 12,000 miles in the last six years and climbed 35,000 flights of stairs.”
As many treadmill desk workers find out, it can be a challenging adjustment to walk and perform complex tasks. “I started at first just trying to stand up more and work. Then once I started walking and working, I had to find the right speed,” he said. “Part of the trick is finding exactly the right speed so you don’t have to think about walking — mine is 2.8 mph for working and thinking. At first, if I really needed to focus, I needed to stop and stand. But now, it’s no longer the case.”
Jewell offered this final tip when considering whether or not to purchase a treadmill desk. “Think about your office environment — it probably wouldn’t work in an office with other people, because it’s too noisy. And that would be distracting to them and to me.”
Kimberly Gohringer started Empower Now to help women create positive change in their lives. As a neuro-linguistic coach, mom and professional writer, she has the tools to help you crash through the barriers that can stop you from pursuing your dreams and true potential.
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