I'll admit it - I'm something of a treadmill desk evangelist. When people come and visit us in our Austin showroom, my coworkers will frequently point to me as proof that the concept works."He usually knocks out 5 miles a day at 2.2 miles an hour while working" is a commonly heard statistic (in reality I usually only walk about 4.75 miles a day , but I'll let them believe I go the extra .25 mile). When they ask me how I like it, my answer is always the same - I don't recommend it as a replacement for cardio workouts, but it's such an important cornerstone of my workday now that I can't imagine living without it.
There are, of course, naysayers, as there has been with every big change to the office environment. Fast Company recently published an article claiming that installing a treadmill desk "might have been a mistake," pointing to a study by the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine that examined 20 overweight and obese office workers who were permitted to use a treadmill desks for 12 weeks. The study found that while using the treadmill desks did increase their daily step count, they didn't lose any significant weight and didn't use the desks as frequently as they were asked to, averaging 45 minutes of walk time a day. On top of that, they didn't go very fast either, claiming they could only walk at about 1.8 mph to stay productive. The final issue found was a lack of enthusiasm. The study found that of 700 eligible participants, only 10% were interested, and even fewer actually met their usage goals because they had difficulty finding time to walk at the communal treadmill.
The problem with these claims is that they completely miss the point of using a treadmill desk.
The treadmill desk is not meant to make you lose weight - it's designed to keep you moving, as one component of a larger health picture. While I've personally lost over 35 lbs since I started using a treadmill desk, it was only one part of a much larger shift in my habits, which resulted in me being more active, more often, while eating less than I used to. The treadmill desk certainly helped free up calories for me, but I never run my treadmill faster than 2.3 mph, meaning my heart rate never hits the level it needs to hit in order to "count" as moderate physical activity per typical health guidelines. It does, however, keep my body from falling into a sedentary state, which has benefits all its own for my productivity (I was known for being a very sleepy person at my previous job). With that in mind, my preferred speeds of 2.2-2.3 mph might seem a bit extreme, but there's a learning curve involved, something the study did not appear to account for. Starting at a slower speed and slowly cranking it up over time not only helps you acclimate to using a treadmill desk, but helps you maintain focus on your work. There's no shame in starting - or staying - at a slower speed, as long as you're moving.
Finally, there's the matter of convenience. It's no surprise that when a shared desk and scheduling is involved that people neglect it in favor of things they consider more important. One of the biggest reasons we build our UPLIFT desks with motorized legs rather than crank-type height adjustment systems is convenience. If you have to take valuable time out of your day to switch between sitting and standing every hour using a cumbersome hand crank, eventually you're liable to just stop doing it. When shifting positions requires you to get up from your desk and go somewhere else to keep working, it's no surprise that people will do it less and less as time goes on. This is why we recommend using systems like our UPLIFT Treadmill Desks. By pairing an electric height-adjustable desk with a treadmill that you can use whenever you like without leaving your regular workstation all at an unbelievable price, it's much easier to put in an hour of walking or two. Over time, it just becomes a habit like any other.
The treadmill desk might not be as perfect a fit for everyone's work habits as it is for me, but it's certainly worth considering for your ergonomic office. Once you've spent a bit of time with it, you'll realize that investing in yourself is absolutely no mistake.
Learn more about treadmill desks at TheHumanSolution.com.