Treadmill Desks – Fad or Fabulous?

Can a treadmill desk help me hit my goals?

Each day I track my activity on my Apple Watch. No matter what I do, during the week I can never seem to close all my rings except for standing.  Movement and exercise, even with 30 minutes of exercise, are my downfall.

The idea of walking my way through work on days that I work from home is intriguing. So, I started taking a look at the options on Amazon and my heart sank. I just want a piece that goes across my hand bars to lay my laptop! The plastic shelf seemed small and ergonomically challenging.  The option for about $450 was this massive desk that spanned across your treadmill – essentially a desk that just happens to be high enough to slide your treadmill underneath. Then you get the whole thing for about $1000. Nothing seems worth the money.

Now that I had a sense of cost, I looked for information on the benefits of treadmill desks.  Those promoting the health benefits had an ulterior motive of selling the treadmill desks. Not a good source for unbiased information.  Tracking down the few independent studies out there brings some concrete findings – good and bad. (attribution to these studies is available in the source links below).

  • A study  from an article in the journal Obesity, showed that participants lost as much as eight pounds over the course of a year
  • There may be an increase in productivity by 0.69 based on walker input
  • Over a 12-month period participants using treadmill desks increased their daily activity and lost weight.
  • Health benefits include lower cholesterol and triglycerides.
  • 10% loss in performance of fine motor skills
  • increase in treadmill accidents

The studies done are small and the predictions of changing work environments where employees have treadmills embedded in the floor as part of their desk and cubicle areas. It also seems that the cost-benefit isn’t compelling enough to those looking at significant weight loss. One could also argue that a .69 increase in productivity  may not be worth the investment, disruption, and employer ‘mandates’ to work in a walking style for the business gain.

Maybe you can now see my cynicism. I’m not convinced that a bigger investment in a treadmill desk is really going to make a huge difference for me if it is only a day or two per week. Better to be patient as my interval routine ramps up and I can go longer and at higher intensity. No need to waste money on gimmicks.

It can be frustrating at the beginning when the pounds start to come off.  You get excited and want to build momentum and get to your goal faster. I need to remind myself that this is a journey, was always supposed to be a journey, and that I have 11 months to go. This way, I don’t just lose weight, I gain a healthy lifestyle I can stay with.

Chubby girl out…

1 http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2014/03/11/new-study-treadmill-desks-boost-productivity/#6bc373f64c8a

2 http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/03/30/392580747/sure-use-a-treadmill-desk-but-you-still-need-to-exercise