I saw my first standing desk + treadmill combo a few years ago in a friend’s office. He and his brother had both switched over to such a setup after reading about it online, and were now averaging six miles or so a day of slow-paced walking while on their computers. I thought it was pretty neat, although a bit impractical as far as space needed and costs incurred (they had developed their own solution instead of buying a pre-built model online).
Nowadays the cost has come down, and more and more people are giving treadputer setups (as they are commonly called) a chance. There are some things you should know before switching over though, especially if you are coming straight from a sitting desk setup:
- Try standing a bit first, using a cheap standing desk setup (for either desktops or laptops) or an inexpensive laptop stand. This will get you used to standing, and will make the transition to walking much easier on your body.
- Make sure you have space, as the treadmills frequently run into lengths of five feet long and longer. Make sure you have enough room to safely get on and off the treadmill without smashing into the wall or your desk.
- Is your floor carpeted? Some treadmills (usually the less expensive kind) don’t work on carpeted surfaces, so you’ll have to place something underneath (such as a flat piece of wood or thick particleboard).
- Make sure you pair it with an easily adjustable desk and a comfortable, ergonomic chair, because there are some times when it just isn’t realistic to stand and/or walk while working (fine tuning graphic design for instance).
Although you can use any treadmill with enough modification, the easiest thing to do is to buy a model suited for this type of setup. The one my friend bought was the Treaddesk, available for a cool $820.00 on the maker’s web site (although they can be had for as little as $500). They also sell adjustable height (electric) standing desks in a variety of shapes and finishes (update February 2018: Traddesk.com site down, link removed).
PC World magazine has an article on the step-by-step process one person went through in setting up and using their treadputer. The guy walks between eight and nine miles a day while at work now.
Lifehacker even had a competition over the coolest work desk setup and chose a treadputer desk as their winner. The man in question has lost over thirty pounds, which he attributes to his new work style.