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How much better is a treadmill over just a standup desk?

I've been checking out treadmills for the last few days but thought I'd mock up a standup desk first to make sure I could handle the concept. Keyboard, mouse, two monitors is all I use as a software engineer.

6 hours done and I love it so much I'm wondering if the treadmill will enhance the experience to make the treadmill purchase necessary. I'm not just standing still as I'm sure that's nearly as bad as sitting all day, but continually taking one small step back and one forward, twisting, whatever.

There are so many fantastic advantages of going treadmill-less--I could probably rattle 10 or 20 straight off. The only advantages of the treadmill I can see is it probably becomes a less conscious activity than stepping back and forward, it's in control and keeps you going constantly for more weight loss and maybe the strides are bigger making it more comfortable for hours on end. 

It's just a bit hard to know without buying one. Checked out hiring but minimum one month and expensive.

Has anyone gone through the same process as myself and found in the end the treadmill was just the way to go?

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Yeah, after another day at it I'm finding I automatically stop walking when I have to think a bit concentrate a bit harder about something. Time will tell I guess--maybe the walking will become more automatic like a treadmill enforces. Or maybe on a treadmill I just will have to stop the unit in these periods.


What I did find is I was showing another person something on the computer yesterday and I couldn't stop pacing around. It drove them crazy!




how's it going now, a month after your last post? Have you made a decision?


I too switched from sitting to standing, and did it for several months, and liked it better than sitting. However, for the past three and a half years I have used a treadmill desk, and find walking while working more comfortable than standing, although I do a lot of standing. The treadmill's even pace keeps me active, even though I forget I'm walking.


I find if I have to show someone something on my computer, it is a little crowded if they come up on the treadmill (which I've stopped, of course), so if I ever get around to designing and building a better desk, I'll probably put in a platform around the treadmill so there is more room for someone to stand beside me.


If you are going to stick with standing but no treadmill, I would recommend you try a rubber mat designed for standing on. My treadmill's deck is quite comfortable to stand on - I got a NordicTrack from Costco.



I stood for more than a year then tried a couple of other options to keep me moving.  Nothing survived until my tread arrived 13 months ago.  My feet also feel much, much better since I repeatedly completely unweight one foot.

I'm lucky enough to be a telecommuter, I work from home every day.  I jacked up my desk about 8 or 9 weeks ago to try out the idea of a standing desk before going the whole hog with a treadmill desk.  The first week was ok, definitely a bit sore. The second and third week were agony, my feet hurt like crazy and my knees and hips certainly were not having fun.


Week four everything seemed to shift for me and I felt much better, since then its got easier and easier to do 8-10 hours of standing every day whilst I'm working. Last week I visited my office and spent a week working back at a sit down desk, I didn't like it at all, caused me all sorts of aches and pains.


One thing that made a difference for me, was switching from regular shoes with a soft mat under my desk, to a pair of 'Earth Shoes' with a negative heal. After I switched to those I ditched the rubber mat.


Today is my first day at a treadmill desk. I finally found a working, relatively quiet, good brand, treadmill for next to nothing on craigslist. I took a few scrap pieces of 2x4, 2x6 and some OSB plywood and knocked up a desk. Its not exactly the rock of Gibraltar but its holiday up my huge displays and other odds and sods. My real desk is now back at sitting level which will be handy for my weekly conf call, and has the rest of systems on it.


So far so good, I'm 2.5 hrs and 2.5 miles in and it feels good. Typing and reading is easy, I'm not noticing any difficulty, even with the slight wobble on my displays caused by my super cheap desk. ;-)


Knees ache a little, and I can feel a little tightness in my hip, but I suspect after a week or so I'll adjust, especially if I remember to actually do any stretching.


Cheers, Mark.

Yep, a month gone now, 8kg (18 pounds) lost in weight, no back pain. Let's just say I'm never going back to sitting. The chair's already been thrown out. I'm just a bit scared I'm going to have to start eating more so I don't waste away.


My feet have been a bit sore, even felt a bit of plantar fasciitus coming on but it's getting better with time. But I am at the computer over 100 hours a week so I'm really punishing my feet.


I might check out this earth shoes Mark talks about. I've found Chaco open sandals the best so far.


So I've been treadmill less. When reading or web browsing, I walk back and forward about three yards. I voice control the computer to navigate web pages or turn document pages or even like now, dictate forum posts.  I also stretch my ridiculously tight hip flexors that I got from years of sitting, I also do step-ups, chest flyes, pushups, bicep curls and heaps of other exercises with a TRX I installed next to me. I'll do rolldowns while pages are loading or I'm running something that takes time and often take off to do quick errands like wiping down the kitchen bench, so the house has become tidier too!


However when I need to concentrate hard, I find myself stopping and loading my feet. That's when it can become uncomfortable. Catfiend's experience is very eye opening and I can totally imagine it being the case. I don't however know if such times of hard concentration that I could walk on the treadmill even.

I've also tilted the keyboard and mouse pad away from me so there is no more bend at the wrist. It feels so much better. Monitors are installed so top of screen is at eye height, but I think I might raise them a few more inches as I still feel a bit I'm stretching the back of my neck a bit.

Great work on the weight loss, switching to the standing desk I expected to lose some weight but stayed pretty much the same, but four days of treadmill desk and I've dropped 5lbs already.


Here is my experience over the last week. I'd like to preface this by saying that during the summer I'm used to lots of long strenuous hikes, and during the winter I've managed to get regular walks in too, so I figured strolling at 1mph wouldn't be a big deal... ;-)


Day 1 was great until about 5 hours into walking, up until that point I had found it pretty easy going, but then the feet got sore, the hips were painful and tight and my calf muscles were so tight I could barely walk after stopping for 10 mins. Hot tub and stretched, but that evening I hobbled from the couch to bed like a old man.


Day 2 was a bit of a struggle to get down the stairs, and it hurt like crazy when I started off on the treadmill. Loosened up after an hour or so, but by hour five I was in agony again. Hot tub and stretched, and hobbled around the house that evening. Decided I would take day 3 off.


Day 3, I couldn't give up yet. So I today I increased my time on the treadmill to 7 hours, felt pretty good until the last hour or so. Hot tub and stretching again after work, and self medicated with IPA.


Day 4, beginning to feel better in the mornings today did another 7 hours on the treadmill, not quite as tired at the end of the day and not so sore. Sides of my feet were a little painful in the last hour or so. Hot tub and stretched, and wasn't hobbling so much. Self medicated with IPA again.


Day 5, woke up this morning and felt surprisingly good. I think my body is beginning to get used to it. We'll see how I get on today. My goal is 8 hours on the treadmill today.


If I started again, I think I would ramp up more slowly, perhaps 3 hours, 4 hours, 5 etc. over the course of the week.


In terms of concentration there has only been one occasion where I needed to stop the treadmill. For the most part I've been able to code, trouble shoot and hold voice conversations without needing to stop. The onky tricky thing I find, is that I have trouble using touch devices (iPad's) and using my laptop keyboard, which is offset to the side whilst walking.

It's been helpful to follow your chat. Hiking sandals might be something I should get hold of for use on the treadmill. Was thinking "running shoes" for the cushioning and stability, but clearly they'll be far too hot, worn 8 to 10 hrs a day. Hmmm..


My treadmill's set to go, but the office space isn't... DSL line and so on have to be moved. That's a DIY project that'll take another week, I'm sure.

I sometimes wear trainers just to mix it up a bit, sometimes go bare footed, but I think I'd want quite a few pairs of trainers the sort of walking we do here (if you know what I mean!). The hiking sandals are the most comfortable though.


There are lots of reasons why wireless routers aren't appropriate over moving or extending the DSL line, but I thought I'd mention them just you didn't consider it.

The Dilemma

Well after a few week of brain intensive coding, I found that I just wasn't keeping the walking up at the standup desk. It was fine for general computing tasks and reading, but the brain must be too involved in purposeful walking and full concentration on my task just wasn't possible (well at least for me anyway). So I found myself standing at the desk for long periods, which led to foot and hip soreness.


The Plunge

So I thought I take the plunge and buy a treadmill to see if forced walking would leave the brain alone to concentrate on the task at hand. I couldn't bring myself to dismantle a full-working treadmill so I thought I'd look on ebay for a broken one.


And I found one, no stats were listed apart from the mains voltage :) and all that it had wrong was a faulty power cable. I highly doubted it but took the chance anyway and after some pretty tough bidding which had me thinking I'd won it for $10 with a minute to go, I finally got it for $69.


Getting the beast home

So I went to pick it up and it was huge, and solid. It took three of us just to put it in the truck and I had no idea how I was going to get it up a flight of stairs, by myself. But somehow I did, despite it slipping down the stairs twice.



It was now midnight, but I was eager to see what was wrong with it. It didn't power up. I checked the cables and was confused why there were two power leads coming from the machine. I soon discovered one was a stray that had been trapped as it was ripped out of the treadmills power socket by the incline mechanism retracting. The power socket on the treadmill was cracked and I began to get quite excited that the sellers were right, it was just a power problem.


I opened him up, and found the power panel had taken a mighty blow. One of the power connector's lugs had been badly bent and one line was disconnected. I fixed that and woopee, the treadmill powered up.


Now powering up, but console wouldn't react

'SAFE' was written on the console and I couldn't press any buttons. I thought this would have mean the safety magnet thing wasn't in place, but it was. I opened up the console and found the reed switch which the magnet triggers had  become unglued from the console and was just hanging.  I fixed it, and the SAFE went off and the treadmill started!!!


Treadmill working, but cutting out

I started walking an after about 10 minutes the SAFE light came on again and the treadmill stopped.I tried the treadmill later and it worked again, then stopped, then worked. I thought the reed switch was gone so I bypassed it but the problem persisted. However I found when I flexed the console's circuit board, SAFE would come on and off.



 I ended up finding a joint completely missed by the soldering robot. I bet it's a common problem with the model.

Now she's perfect. I'm thinking the only problem was indeed the disconnected power line inside and the hour drive home in a bumpy pick-up dislodged the reed switch and finally made the joint finally fail, if it wasn't doing that before.


I managed to find a model label and looked it up on the web. It was a HillTrack Legend and hardly any mention of it anywhere bar a few being sold.


But this is a major piece of machinery:


3.5HP (2.56kW) continuous motor. 

20.5" (52cm) wide belt

14mph (22kph) top speed.

Weight of treadmill (not user): 250 pounds! 


Time to shed some weight (i.e. treadmill weight)

Now that it was working, time to pull it too pieces.  Tools: allen key, screwdrivers, angle grinder. 


1. Detached console

2. Removed steel side arms and bracing.

3. Removed steel base.

4. Relocated power switch, mains socket, breaker board as it was on the steel base.

5. Removed incline motor

6. Remove fold-up metalwork and piston.

7. Removed wheels


And it's still heavy!


Unfortunately I was only in temporary accommodation when I bought it so I had to move it two weeks later.  The steel frame and the motor weigh a ton. I can see why the super expensive models use aluminum for the frame.


Two weeks on

Fantastic. Walking is automatic, no brain involvement. Only about 5 hours per day so far but no pains. Typically walk at 2kph (1.25mph) when maximum concentration required,  2.5kph (1.5mph) normal coding and 4kph (2.5mph) when reading or browsing.


What's next

Replace the bulky console with a simple control box with a few preset speed buttons, possibly a dial as well. That'll get rid of the annoying safety features on the treadmill like the 3 second countdown until it starts and the beeping. I was thinking of having control via the PC and having on-screen display of distance travelled, but do I really need to know how far I've walked? I don't think so.


But I'll have to survive with a bulky console for a while. Back to real work.

this is quite usefull experience/information for at some other side i read that to aclimate to a treadmill workstation the author suggest a standing desk first (well the way i went for the desk you just pick a model you like it does not seem to be that eay regarding the tread.).

But according your experience it would make sense to either sit or walk with pretty much nothing in between to prevent the underbody from soreing at some parts due standing around.

Yeah well looking even more forward to my tread for i also noticed that you need to move around if you want to keep standing for longer periods off time.

Great to see/hear people evolving from their comfy yet long time painfully deteriating chair life and jump into the Standing position which makes the next logical step to advance to 'The Treadmill Desk'.

In the end it seems that walking brought me the lesser pain of all 3 options and at the end of the day felt the most alive, healthy, full of good endorphins, felt more accomplished and the best part losing those extra kgs (pounds) with toned legs.

Since moving to a new house without my standup desk, I have put back on those kgs, started a worse eating routine, felt little to no life after using the computer sitting down for a few hours, all in all not the path I want to be on.

So keep on treading on I say, hope to hear more inspiring stories to come.


I like the fact that you can use voice activations etc for using your computer. I may have a go at this as well, on a Mac but I do recall reading something about it.


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