In a 2013 article in the New Yorker, writer Susan Orlean informed us that she works on a treadmill desk. For those who are unfamiliar, a treadmill desk is a set-up where you walk at a slow pace – usually not much faster than 2 mph – on a treadmill and using a tall standing desk at the same time.1In a 2013 article in the New Yorker, writer Susan Orlean informed us that she works on a treadmill desk. For those who are unfamiliar, a treadmill desk is a set-up where you walk at a slow pace – usually not much faster than 2 mph – on a treadmill and using a tall standing desk at the same time.1
Orlean writes that the biggest problem with this set-up is that she has a constant compulsion to announce that she’s working on a treadmill desk.
Sitting silently kills us
But despite the impulse to virtue-signal to all your coworkers, friends, and family, walking while working in incredible for your health. Susan writes the real health risks of sitting more than 6 hours per day – and most Americans sit for more than 11 hours per day!
It’s not surprising that we sit so much: our lives are geared toward this stasis. Many of us have desks at work, and we spend a lot of our time there staring at computer screens, reading, writing, making calls, etc.
The net effect of this is that our muscles remain inactive for 70 to 80% of our waking hours. We burn fewer calories than we did 50 years ago. And, worst of all, there are serious health issues at risk. As Orlean notes, sitting can lead to cardiovascular problems, Type 2 diabetes, certain kinds of cancer, and depression.
Check out this infographic for all the health issues caused by sitting too much:
But, as Orlean notes,
“the thing with walking, though, is that it really does take a lot of time. When I ran, I could whip through five miles in forty-five minutes, but walking the same distance would take forever.”
We all have long workdays and home obligations that eat up our hours. This is where the treadmill desk is perfect! You can work up to walking for one or two hours, or even more, thus avoiding the potential health problems and helping you get more active and burn more calories throughout the day.
Don’t just sit there!
It’s not a must to get a treadmill, which can be somewhat expensive. A great alternative to get started is a standing desk, or a convertible desk that moves up and down for both standing and seated work. A shelf, countertop, or sturdy box could work as makeshift standing desks as well.
As you get started, alternate often. It can take a while to get used to physically active working. Work for 20 minutes standing, then sit for 20 minutes. Keep switching back and forth. Once this becomes easy, you can increase you standing time – but still make sure you take breaks! And when you can, take a little walk while you work, such as if you’re talking to customers, having a conference call, or listening to an audiobook.
It takes some getting used to, but give it a shot! Transition from sitting to standing, and from standing to walking. You too can avoid the chair trap and make small healthy and powerful changes to your work style.