I first tried a standing desk back in 2012. My first couple of days experience with it was one of the very few posts I got around to writing for this blog. At the time I found it to be a positive experience but also found I had quite a lot of pain in my back and legs if I stood still. A few months after this experiment I moved offices and couldn't really accommodate a standing desk in the new space. Ever since leaving that office about 16 months ago and moving my work space back into my home I have been planning on returning to a standing desk and adding a treadmill to both help with the problem of standing still and to increase, even more, the benefits of standing.
The Set Up
Rather than buy a complete treadmill desk I decided to assemble one from a normal standing desk and a treadmill.
Standing Desk - Big Jack. (£397 + VAT)
The standing desk I chose was a Big Jack.
This model is 120cm x 80cm and has a manual height adjustment. My original plan was to never adjust the height of the desk but to use a high stool when I wanted to sit so I felt spending an extra £40 + VAT on the electric version would be pointless.
The desk is very good quality and solidly built. It does wobble a little bit when it is at full height (which it needs to be for me when a treadmill is underneath it) but not enough to be an issue.
If you are going to put your own desk together don't forget adding a treadmill will lift you 10-20cm off the ground and you will need to make sure the desk will still go high enough.
I bought the Big Jack desk from I Want A Standing Desk
Treadmill - Lifespan TR1200-DT3 (£999 + VAT)
One of the reasons it has taken me so long to make this leap to a treadmill desk is cost. When putting one together you might be tempted to just purchase a cheap home treadmill but that would not be a good idea. When using a treadmill desk you will want to be able to use it for a good number of hours each day. Cheap home treadmills are designed for maybe an hour of use at a time and the motor would soon burn out if used for longer.
As I began to research different treadmills I noticed that models specifically designed to be used with standing desks would normally specify a number of hours per day they were warranted for use. Typical values were 3hrs, 6hrs and 10hrs.
In the end, after reading many reviews, I decided to go for a treadmill from LifeSpan. I really wanted a 10hr model as then I would never need to worry about how long it had been running. However the 10hr model was £1999 + VAT which was quite a way above my budget so I settled on the 6hr TR1200-DT3 model at £999 + VAT.
When buying a TR1200-DT3 you get the treadmill and a controller. The controller allows you start and stop the treadmill, set the speed (0 to 4mph) and records your statistics. The controller will link via bluetooth to a pretty pathetic app that will run on your mac.
With the treadmill you also get a free account on LifeSpan Club. The Mac app will automatically sync your data allowing you to see your progress over time. I have not really explored the LifeSpan Club website much as yet but it look pretty annoying.
As well as buying the treadmill you will need to purchase a matt for it to sit on for about £29 + VAT. This is to stop it picking up dust and fluff from the carpet which will eventually kill it. You will also need to buy a bottle of 100% silicone (£16 + VAT) in order to lubricate the treadmill belt about every three months. (The manufacturer also recommends you lubricate it when you first get the treadmill as the silicone could have dried out while the treadmill was in storage before sale).
Over a thousand pounds is quite a lot to fork out in one go so I was please to see that Gymworld where I purchased the treadmill offer 3 years interest free credit. That meant I ended up paying around £100 as a deposit and £25 a month over the next three years which is probably a little less than a gym membership would cost me.
Rest Stool: Venosa (£74.99 + VAT)
Although I am keen to stand and walk as much as I can I wanted to be able to sit when I needed to. Rather than use an office chair which would take up a lot of space and require me to change the height of the desk from almost its maximum height to its minimum height when ever I wanted to switch I decided to use an office stool instead.
I purchased the stool hoping to be able to leave the desk at it's standing height and just transfer to the stool whenever I needed to. This would have worked out fine if I had just been using the Big Jack desk as a normal standing desk. However using the desk at it's full height because of the treadmill makes it too high for the stool. This means I have to drop the desk about 20cm to use with the stool. The manual mechanism on the desk is easy to use and it literally takes about 5 seconds to do but it does make me wish I had bought the motorised version where I could have just set both heights as settings to switch between.
The stool is pretty comfy for a few hours at a time but does feel like a stool which encourages you to stand again after a while which is exactly what I wanted.
I also bought the stool from I Want A Standing Desk. After a few days I noticed that over time the stool was loosing height while I was sitting on it. It turned out to be a faulty gas cylinder. One email to IWantAStandingDesk and they immediately dispatched a new cylinder. Very good service.
The Full Set Up
So when all put together it looks like this.
Working With a Treadmill Desk
Last week was my first week using the treadmill desk. After 5 days my stats were as follows
- Steps Taken: 163,077
- Distance Walked: 58 Miles.
- Minutes Walked: 2007
How was the experience?
A treadmill desk is a pretty big investment so I was a little worried that about how it was all going to work out. On the whole it was a really good experience but one that will take a little bit of getting used to.
Each day so far, other than my first, I have walked for a full 6 hours on the treadmill spending the other 2-4 hours on the stool. I have tended to break the day up into a 3 hour walking session, an hour on the stool, another three hour walking session then finish the day on the stool.
Through the week I have settled on using certain speeds for certain things.
- Maximun Concentration while Typing : 1mph
- Good Concentration while Typing : 1.5m mph (The speed I am doing right now while typing this)
- Reading : 2 - 2.5 mph
- Skype / Google Hangouts : 2.5 - 3mph
- Clear my mind for a few minutes : 4 mph (Unable to actually work at this speed)
At the end of the day my legs do ache but not in an unhealthy way, just in the way they should after a 9 to 12 mile walk. I find I am lot more alert in the afternoons when usually my mind would be beginning to tire and I am also sleeping a lot better at nights. There is something very healthy about being physically tired at the end of the day.
So one week in I feel this is going to be a good way to work that could end up being more productive and more healthy than sitting. I guess only time will tell if I stick at it and get value from my investment so look out for my 1 month report.