The treadmill desk seems to be getting a lot of media time lately, and none other than the New York Times featured an article on treadmill desks (entitled “I Put In 5 Miles at the Office”) in its “Well” column.
I’ve been using a treadmill desk for about four months, and I think that the NYT article gives a very balanced view of the topic. For me, the bottom line is that I enjoy walking a lot more than I enjoy sitting at a desk, and I find that I can do most of my translation work while on the treadmill; while typing this I’m walking 0.9 miles per hour. In the past few months I have also had people of varying athletic levels try the desk, and they have all commented on how easy it was to get used to reading and typing while walking.
My sense is that if you are very overweight or inactive to start out with, you can probably lose a lot of weight by using a treadmill desk; one of the Mutual of Omaha employees interviewed for the NYT article lost 16 pounds in two months after gaining 75 pounds in the previous two years. If you’re reasonably active to start out with, I think that the major advantages of a treadmill desk are decreased desk-related pain (I now notice that if I work sitting down for a day, my back, wrists and neck really bother me), better alertness (because you’re moving instead of slouching) and increased satisfaction with your work environment. I also like taking fast-walking breaks on my treadmill, where I shut off the monitors, put on my mp3 player and walk at about 3mph for 10 or 20 minutes.
Also, I am still quite happy with the walking desk that I put together for under $200, centered around a Proform Crosswalk treadmill that I purchased for $150 on Craigslist. The Crosswalk works well at low speeds and its hand rails are at exactly the right height for a keyboard tray. If your employer is paying for it, I think that a $4,000 Walkstation is probably a nice option, but it’s definitely possible to put your own walking desk together for a fraction of that amount.