Walk and Work: Treadmill desks help with health and productivity

Chances are, you’ve made resolutions this year to get in shape and make more money. And people seem to think that if you work at home you have alllllllll the time in the world to complete these resolutions.  In reality, it’s just not true.

When I get up in the morning, I head straight to my computer, go through my social networks to reply to people, start writing, answering emails, answering media requests, go through my to-do list, work with clients, go to seminars and networking events or teach at seminars and networking events, and before you know it…the sun is setting and another day has gone by.

This creates a challenge when wanting to get into shape.  On the one hand, yes, I have a fairly flexible schedule, and in theory, I should be able to hop over to the local Y and get in a good sweat sometime during the day.  But, I usually end up sitting on my ass all day typing. I have really skinny fingers, though…they’re always getting a work-out.

I heard about a ‘walking workstation’ a few years ago while consulting for an exercise studio.  The owner was concerned she was sending the wrong message to her clients since her staff was sitting all day, so she looked into getting walking-workstations to promote good health all around.  My time at the facility ended before I saw them implemented, but the concept always stood in the back of my mind.

Walking work-stations are just treadmills with a board over the console so that you can work on the computer while you’re walking.  You should set the pace to 1-2 miles per hour so you can walk and work at the same time without getting too distracted.  The purpose isn’t really to get a burn or to run, (believe me it’s hard to do graphic design while moving) but to increase your movement during the day to strengthen your body and heart.

To purchase a walking-workstation new, it’s about $800-$1000 or more. I’d prefer to spend my money on other things, so I ended up going the cheap route. For my small office, my setup works perfectly:


I started with wall-mounted shelving from Storables. This is the ultimate in flexibility since I wasn’t sure what size treadmill I would be able to get and I could raise or lower the shelves depending on its height. Luckily, Craigslist came through for me and I was able to score a fairly small treadmill for just $40. It didn’t have any bells or whistles, just turn it on and go…which is exactly what I needed.

Having my laptop on the main shelf, though, wasn’t doing any good for my neck or shoulders, since I had to keep looking down. So, I put it on the upper shelf and got an external keyboard (connected by USB, $15 at the Mac resale shop) to put on the main shelf.

My printer (also connected by USB, when needed) is on a corner bookshelf, (one that’s been in my family for generations) but just as easily could have been put on a separate shelf. And other peripherals like my podcasting mic and filing cabinet round out the set-up.

I don’t walk all day every day…I’ve found that I can’t do graphic or web design while moving, but writing (like this post) and answering emails, talking on the phone…it all works fine. I’m usually on the machine about 1-3 hours per day. Since it doesn’t have the tools to track calories or miles, I can only guesstimate that I’m walking about 2.5-8 miles a day based on my normal walking pace. And, it’s nice because when I just want to veg out and watch shows, I can go through my Netflix queue. Much better than dealing with whatever live TV is going on at the gym.

After I’m done, I’ve found that I do build up a little sweat, but not where I feel like I need a shower. But, most importantly, I don’t feel like I’ve sacrificed my health for my business.

Think about all the extra money you could make by being a mystery shopper, starting your own business, or working from home for a legitimate company. Take control of your income and check out our LEARN page for a list of classes, books, and more!

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