Ed Robinson's Blog

A Week On A Walking Desk

8 December 2014

Picture of me browsing Steam at my walking desk

First Impressions

I’ve been using a walking desk for a week now. I have more energy, leave my computer feeling refreshed, and it’s genuinely fun. I engage more when watching documentaries, playing games, or even when writing. It’s a stark contrast to standing or sitting still, which can be uncomfortable or leave me feeling tired. In this post I’d like to cover some surprises, and how you can make your own walking desk.

Buying A Treadmill

The first treadmill I bought was a $50 buy now on TradeMe. The average second-hand Treadmill goes for ~$120 on TradeMe. I tried it out as soon as it got home, but with the weight of a person on it it jammed a few times. After this I decided to learn how to take care of a Treadmill. Number 1 Fitness came to the rescue with their Treadmill Maintenance Guide.

I vacuumed the treadmill, cleaned under the belt with a towel, vacuumed again, then lubricated the treadmill deck with Lube & Walk which set me back $20 in-store :).

Treadmill Lubrication

My treadmills have been well adjusted, but it’s worth noting that yours may need adjusting.

I took one of the shelves from my standing desk and placed it over the handles of the treadmill. It’s important that you can adjust your standing desk to put the monitor at a good height as you’ll be noticeably taller while walking on a treadmill.

After all this effort the treadmill motor broke and I was in the market for another treadmill. Getting a new one set me back $150. Had I known how to use a treadmill properly, and done the maintenance before trying to walk on it, this could’ve been avoided.

How to use a Treadmill

  1. Stand on the sides of the treadmill until the belt gets up to speed. Having the treadmill try to move you from standstill puts a lot of pressure on the motor.

  2. Don’t run the treadmill at its lowest speed. Smaller motors have considerably more trouble at lower speeds.

  3. If it ever stops or jams, pull the safety key and get off. Hopefully you haven’t damaged anything. If in doubt contact a treadmill repair expert.

  4. If anything is weird or goes wrong, STOP. That includes noises, smells, and unexpected changes in speed. Just pull the safety key and get off, your treadmill may have given up the ghost :(.

  5. Step on slowly. I test with one foot first before stepping on and fully concentrate on getting comfortable before redirecting my attention to the computer.

  6. Build up slow, I’ve been doing thirty minutes to an hour per day on a level treadmill. This will increase as I get more accustomed to using it.

  7. Alternate between standing, sitting and walking.

  8. Clear everything that could be a problem out of the way before starting.

  9. Lastly, you will require some co-ordination to pull this off. If in doubt, stop.

What they don’t tell you about walking desks

  1. Cheap walking desks are big, and noisy. The larger the motor the less noise it will make, cheap treadmills have small motors.

  2. You will get warm. I can’t imagine wearing a business shirt and jeans on this thing, by the 20min mark I have a light sweat on my back.

  3. You get a weird sort of motion sickness when you step off. It’s not unpleasant but I wouldn’t drive a car, ride a bike or do anything that requires co-ordination for ~15 minutes after stepping off.

  4. You’ll likely sleep better and feel better. After making this part of my daily routine I feel a lot better exercised and stretched out. It’s a very comfortable feeling.