Day 255-720

It’s been a while since I last updated, which I think is good news for anyone considering a treadmill desk! I still use one at home (I’m on my second one since I basically destroyed the first one). Same desk (Ikea Fredrik) and same treadmill model (Confidence Power Plus), and same modifications. (Speaker disabling, propping up the back, arms removed.) Overall impressions, this is an awesome setup for the price. I was thinking of making one for some friends also, but finding a cheap standing desk is usually the problem. These Ikea Jerker and Fredrik desks are amazing for the purpose, but for some stupid reason Ikea discontinued them. They are just now introducing a standing desk, but it’s single level (so it’s not even as good!) and much more expensive. Also, people in craigslist are starting to realize that the desks they have are in high demand and are charging a lot for them! There needs to be a cheap standing desk solution. Ikea had it before, but now they’re getting greedy and hurting widespread adoption.

Anyways, rant aside, my health seems to be pretty good still! I stopped keeping track of my weight when my scale broke (among other excuses), so I’ll give a weight update once I get another one. I stopped keeping track of my blood pressure, because as you can see from the final graph, it wasn’t changing all that much. I did have to get checked out at the doctor for that hip pain I was mentioning in previous posts, but it wasn’t anything with bone, just muscle. I’ve toned down the speed and length of time I use the treadmill and it hasn’t been a problem since. I also visited a physical therapist about an unrelated lower back issue (snowboarding accident) and he was saying how humans probably aren’t that used to doing a slow walk for prolonged periods of time, and that may have led to some issues as well. He suggested that if you’re going to walk, to pump up the speed to a normal walking rate instead of a 1mph speed. That’s kind of conflicting information from personal experience, and he wasn’t exactly a great physical therapist to begin with, so take that with a grain of salt I suppose. In any case, I’m at least starting to pump up the speed when I’m doing work that isn’t very concentration or movement sensitive, just in case.

Treadmill Desks are Better Than Standing Desks

Article referenced: MacEwen et al., “A systematic review of standing and treadmill desks in the workplace” Preventive Medicine , Volume 70, January 2015, Pages 50–58

Standing desks are often all the hype because they are relatively easy to set up in the workplace. I’ve noticed this myself after using both, that having a walking / treadmill desk is actually easier to use than a standing desk. And according to this study, treadmill desks are also significantly better for your health than a standing desk alone. It’s not the only study to come to that conclusion, and basically any study on basic exercise and physical activity will likely say the same. Moving increases circulation, which increases oxygen, which increases function. The brain in particular, when under higher oxygen conditions such as after exercising, is flooded in BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor). BDNF is almost like a miracle protein in that it helps to heal damage, prevent Alzheimers, make connections, and basically just do all sort of good things for the hippocampus and brain. (REFERENCE) This is why learning something new, like a different language, is more efficient in about the half hour after you’ve worked out and still have this high BDNF concentrations. So… back to the treadmill desk. If working out gives such good benefits for post workout studying, I maintain that if you keep a low level of exercise prolonged throughout your work, you may get some of the same effects. You won’t get that kind of benefit from standing desks alone because standing doesn’t work to increase circulation as much. Oh, and the paper I originally referenced also sums it up quite well: “Treadmill desks led to the greatest improvement in physiological outcomes including postprandial glucose, HDL cholesterol, and anthropometrics, while standing desk use was associated with few physiological changes.” Sorry standing desks, you’re awesome, but you’re not as awesome as a treadmill desk.

Regular exercise won’t save you from the effects of prolonged sitting.

Article reference: Biswas et al., “Sedentary Time and Its Association With Risk for Disease Incidence, Mortality, and Hospitalization in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis”, Ann Intern Med. 2015;162(2):123-132. doi:10.7326/M14-1651

Exercise is good. Sitting is bad. We all kind of knew that already, but so long as we work in our daily exercise regimen, we’re fine, right? Not as much as we think, it turns out. A group at the University of Toronto has conducted a meta-analysis and concluded that “overall sedentary time, sitting time, television or screen time, or leisure time spent sitting” is independently correlated with higher risk for “all-cause mortality” defined as: “cardiovascular disease incidence or mortality, cancer incidence or mortality (breast, colon, colorectal, endometrial, and epithelial ovarian), and type 2 diabetes in adults”. The key word here is “independently”. That means that sedentary time, regardless of all other factors, contributes to an increased chance of mortality. That means that sitting is basically killing you, and you can’t prevent its effect, even if you exercise regularly. It’s not to say that exercising doesn’t do anything, in fact it’s still the activity that correlates the best with longevity. Exercise is still really good for you, it just doesn’t do anything for you while you’re sitting is all.