A Year of Walking and Working: DIY Treadmill Desk Update

I’ll be honest, I haven’t found too many updates online about the success that people have with walking and working.  I know there are a lot of people who are looking at this site right now because they are looking for fitness solutions for the new year.  I have been walking and working for a year on my DIY treadmill desk and I LOVE IT!  Here are some common questions I get along with my responses…

ikea treadmill deskDo you walk and work every day, all day?  Nope.  There are some days where the demands of being a Dad just have me too worn out to focus while strolling, clicking and typing.  But 90% of my work days I am on the treadmill desk for at least a portion of the day.  On average I have walked and worked 4 miles a day for every work day of 2013.  That would put me at roughly 1,000 miles of walking and working on my simple desk that I cobbled together from Home Depot parts and a Craigslist treadmill.  It is my personal opinion that too much of any activity can not be good for the body, so I still take breaks and stand, sit on a stool at my treadmill desk, or retreat to my traditional desk and chair.

Have you ever hurt from walking and working?  Not really.  The only mistake I made in my first year of walking and working was not replacing my shoes in a timely manner.  I LOVE the Merrell Olmec shoe and I simply wore my last pair too long.  I had some foot fatigue from walking in non-supportive shoes but this was my fault for not replacing my shoes soon enough, even though it was obvious they were worn out.  I have a simple stretching routine that I like to do in the morning and before bed so this probably helps too.

Is it hard to work on a computer while walking? For me it is just like sitting at a desk.  The first day it felt weird.  I made some adjustments to my working platform, getting it to the proper height and angle for me.  I can now type all day and feel no wrist fatigue.  I can use my Apple Magic Mouse with no issue at all.  I’m not running a marathon on this thing.  I started at 1.0mph and have slowly worked my way up to a 1.5 or 1.6mph working pace.  It is a casual stroll.

Have you lost weight after a year of walking and working?  Nope.  I walk at a pace around 1.5mph and an incline of 2.0.  This is a casual stroll.  It doesn’t help that I have been eating like a pig for most of 2013…this has nothing to do with my treadmill desk.  I will note that even though I have been over-eating and drinking way too much Dr. Pepper I have not put on a single pound in the last year either.  I have found it a lot easier to run and play with my young children since I don’t spend all day slowly killing myself in an office chair.

What do you think of the commercial treadmill desks?  I think they are AWESOME!  If one of the manufacturers wanted to give me one to try and compare with my DIY treadmill desk I would gladly accept it and give my honest opinion.  But I don’t have $1,500 to shell out on a treadmill desk.  Apparently one of the major manufacturers is aware of my little site.  A reader sent me some comments a rep from the company made about the durability of my DIY treadmill desk.  My $75 Craigslist treadmill is still going strong (knock on wood).  I could buy a $75 Craigslist every year for 20 years before I spend the $1,500 that the average commercial treadmill desk costs.

What is the biggest tip you have for someone considering the transition to a walk and work lifestyle?  I don’t know if there is a single tip.  Drink LOTS of water.  I usually guzzle through 60-80oz of water during my workday now that I walk and work.  Wear good shoes!  And if possible, try out walking and working before you make a major investment.  Perhaps you can cobble together a simple standing desk in your office to help you try it out.  Or if you’re in the DFW area you’re welcome to come try my DIY solution.  If you’re in the Bellevue, WA area you should drop by the retail store of WorkWhileWalking.com to check out the desk selection they have.

I hope that answers a lot of questions and gives everyone a pretty good DIY treadmill desk update.  Thanks to everyone who stops by to check out this site and I hope you find the healthy working solution for your specific circumstance!


A Year of Walking and Working: DIY Treadmill Desk Update — 8 Comments

  1. I have enjoyed reading your posts! You may be interested to know that I assessed a client of mine (“m a personal trainer and wellness advisor) for self-reported stress levels before starting work on her treadmill desk, and 2 months after. Here are the results: 17% reduction in overall stress; 37.5% reduction in “work stress” (and at a peak work stress period); 50% reduction in both “parents/extended family” stress and “physical health” stress. Pretty impressive, eh?

  2. WOW. I Googled “turn a treadmill into a desk” and you are my first click. Search over! I went from a very active teacher of young children, walking miles per day up and down hallways and doing squats to help students at their desks… to working from home, mainly on the computer. And I wonder why I gained weight and felt restless during sleep! This is my solution and your set up is perfect. God bless your ministry, and thank you for posting your experience! xo

    • Glad my story helped Aly! I still enjoy my walking and working lifestyle. It has made a huge impact in my productivity and overall happiness. There are obviously health benefits as well. Make sure to let me know some of your thoughts as you get your desk setup and get moving.

  3. Hi Jon,
    My office is moving so it may be an opportune time to make a shift like this. Thanks for the information! Any additional thoughts now that you’re two years (I think?) in to your experiment?
    Thanks again!

    • Hi Brandon…thanks for your good question. The biggest advice I could give after 2+ years of the walk and work lifestyle is… keep your workspace flexible. I have found that I really enjoy walking and working when I get to the office in the morning and after lunch. I typically spend 4-5 hours walking on the treadmill desk in an average work day. Having either a standard sitting desk or being able to sit at your treadmill desk is also fairly essential. I have a stool that I sit on at my treadmill desk but I also have a large enough office that I have a sitting desk as well.

      In a new office setting, you might consider a shared treadmill desk that is available to all employees. A friend works for a large accounting firm and the new office space they built has no assigned desks or offices. There are about 6 of the electric sit and stand desks that are available to use and everyone has a rolling file pedestal where they can secure their work files. Not sure of your industry or office situation but a shared approach seems to be pretty popular.

  4. Can you please tell me what kind of treadmill you have (make/model)? How has your treadmill held up?

    I’ve read that walking a lot on a treadmill designed for running can wear it out quickly.

    If you have a good one, I might look to buy the same kind of treadmill for myself. (I would just buy a dedicated walking treadmill base, but my wife wants to be able to jog, and we don’t have room or money for two treadmills.)

    • Great questions… The treadmill I was using at the time I wrote this was a used ProForm treadmill. I bought it used on Craigslist but they are typically sold at Walmart. I would suggest looking for a good used treadmill to start off.

      Could low speed walking wear out the motor on a treadmill built for jogging, it is possible. In my personal experience that was not a problem. After several years of reliable service, I had to replace my treadmill after the electronics in the panel were fried by an electrical storm. I was able to pick up a great deal on a Lifespan walking deck and have enjoyed using that, now that I know a treadmill desk works for me.