Walking While Working: Build a Treadmill Desk

It’s a fact. Sitting at a desk shortens your life span. For decades, I’ve heard of people using standing desks. More recently, I discovered “walking desks” — a marriage of treadmill and workstation. I love to walk, and I also love to work (when work = passion). But no way going to spend $5,000 on a Steelcase Walkstation Desk. So I decided to build my own. I’ve been using my new walking workstation for about three weeks and couldn’t be happier. My goal is to walk at least 20 miles each week, so that in roughly 4 years (I’m often out of the office) I will have walked 3072 miles to my virtual destination at the Cape Cod seashore.  I’m keeping a log (scroll down), and will try to update this blog post with significant milestones. UPDATE NOV 2015: I completed my goal! A bit more than 3,000 walking miles. Have now started a new goal: walking from the northern top of Alaska to the bottom tip of South America, around 10,000 miles. At my average pace, it would take more than 10 years, so I’ll need to up my weekly goal to at least 25 miles.  Total cost of my walking desk is $500. I’ve included some photos below. Here’s a list of materials: Treadmill: Merit 725T Plus ($430, delivered). ADDED 15 DEC 2014: The Merit has pretty much worn itself out. It starts to smell really bad after about 2 miles. I’ve replaced the motor, the control board, and the tread, but it’s pooped out. End-of-life. For the price, it’s brought good service for about $10/mo. That’s respectable. I’ve just ordered a Weslo R5.2 from Amazon. Desktop: 48″ x 18″ Smooth Laminate Countertop ($35) Desktop Mounts: Two ea Home Depot Shelf Supports & Brackets ($25) C-Clamps: Four Home Depot U-Bolts ($10) The desktop is easily adjustable up or down in 1 inch increments via the shelf support system. I wall-mounted a video display at eye-level in front of the walking desk. Keyboard and mouse (trackball) are wireless Logitech K350 & M570. My sitting desk is immediately behind the walking desk, behind the R/D lab wall. Logitech’s Unifying Receiver allows me to run duplicate trackballs and keyboards on a single PC, and a passive splitter-combiner lets me to run two monitors from the same video card. So now I have a walking desk and a sitting desk sharing the same PC. Nice. How does it perform? The desktop is very stable and allows me to walk at a reasonable pace while typing on the keyboard, writing, talking on phone, or viewing the video monitor. In fact, I’m writing this blog post from my walking desk at 3.0 MPH. If I need to do critical trackball work (e/m design, schematic entry, etc.) I sometimes need to reduce my speed to something around 2.0 MPH. If walking speeds exceed 3.5MPH, the desktop starts to pick up sympathetic vibrations from the treadmill. VIRTUAL LOCATIONS REACHED: 2011 JOURNEY START: July 18, 2011: Placerville, California Aug 13: Fernley, Nevada Aug 26: Taking a side trip to Burning Man! Sep 16: Fernley, Nevada Back from virtual Burning Man. Nov 16 Elko, Nevada (530 miles to date) Dec 27 Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah 2012 Mar 26, 2012 Salt Lake City, Utah Jul 26 Green River, Wyoming Dec 30 Sidney, Nebraska (1183 miles to date) 2013 April 9 Lexington, Nebraska (1360 miles to date) July 15 Omaha, Nebraska (1570 miles to date — about half-way to my goal!!) Dec 27 Iowa City, Iowa (1820 miles to date) 2014 June 4 South Bend, IN (2130 miles to date) Dec 15 Erie, PA (2490 miles to date) 2015 May 29 Schenectady, NY (2850 miles to date) Nov 13 Cape Cod, MA !!!! I MADE IT !!!! (3072 miles to date)   Walking Desk Related: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/02/are-standing-desks-healthier-than-sitting.php http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1862448-1,00.html http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/04/28/135766887/health-chair-reform-walk-dont-sit-at-your-desk http://hfs.sagepub.com/content/51/6/831.abstract http://smarterware.org/7102/how-and-why-i-switched-to-a-standing-desk http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/23/stand-up-while-you-read-this/ Visit Office Walkers