Optimal Treadmill Desk Usage

I just came across an article that mentions that ~1.4 miles per hour on a treadmill desk is the “optimal” speed for beneficial effects on memory and attention. (I go over it HERE). I also saw another article that says (if you don’t plan on exercising at all otherwise) that walking for ~40 miles a week is the optimal amount for cardiovascular health. This tells me that for the optimal health and memory effects of using a treadmill desk, I should be using it for about 4 hours every day walking at a pace of 1.4 miles per hour. If I can do that, then I apparently won’t gain any additional cardiovascular or memory benefits. There are lots of confounding factors and caveats (I mention many of them in my analysis of these articles, linked to above.) But I think this kind of gives a general number and range to shoot for.

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.

Day 245-255

I’ve recently set up a standing desk at work (I taped an old computer box to the top of my desk, then taped the monitors to the top of that).

DIY Standing Desk at Work (Using a box)

DIY Standing Desk at Work (Using a box)

I’ve really upped the standing time each day, somewhat at the cost of walking time. That isn’t necessarily too bad though since I’m trying to work my way back into walking slowly because of my previous… “injury”. Still embarassing, but I believe it’s getting better.

Day 190- 245

Being away from my treadmill desk during the holidays made me feel very lazy… as a result, when I came back I may have overdone it a bit. I decided to up my time to try and lose that holiday weight, but I think I ended up hurting my hip a little bit. (~5-6 hours a day for ~4 days straight). I stopped using it for a couple of days and then it was back to normal. I’ve been through this cycle twice now where I’ve overdone it and had to rest, but for a while there I was worried since it started to hurt when I walked. Let this be a lesson for those overly ambitious types. I like to think I’m a fairly young, fairly fit individual, yet I was able to turn myself by walking too much. Yes… walking. In any case, I think either one should make sure to take breaks or proceed more slowly than I did. At least I can just rest a few days the damage is healed, I think. Be careful since it could be something different or something more serious for some other people, especially those who are older. Darn this physical body and it’s limitations…

Day 150-190

Seems like the treadmill worked pretty well throughout even the thanksgiving holiday. I ate without reserve and I was still losing weight up until I left for vacation. During my ~4 week vacation, I sat around a lot, ate a lot of buffets, and went on a Mexican cruise. I’m surprised I only gained ~2-3 lbs after all that. I’m kind of excited to see how fast upon return to the treadmill I can lose that weight again.

Day 130-150

I tried playing a first person shooter game recently and I was fairly impressed with the accuracy I can maintain. It even feels pretty cool to be walking in real life while also walking in the game, although when “climbing” ladders in the game, I almost got disoriented and leaned myself off the treadmill. I probably wouldn’t choose a treadmill to play in any tournaments, but I found that I could play almost as well as when I’m sitting down while walking. Fun!

Day 100-130

I’ve been plesantly surprised by my weight. I still eat quite a bit at pretty much anytime of the day (for example, I ate a donut before going to bed last night…not the best decision I’ve ever made.) But somehow, I still manage to be losing weight. My lower back definitely gets a good workout though, and it often feels sore after a long session. I think it’s getting better though, so it’s just something I need to work through. I fear that my weight may be leveling out and reaching a steady state though. I need to up my time each day so I can reach my goal of 160lbs.

Day 70-100

I noticed on my graphs that I was in a downward slope for time spent on the treadmill. I tried to up my time recently to around 2-3 hours a day from 1-2 hours a day average. My lower back is still the first thing to get sore, but like I said earlier, it’s a work out sore, not sharp pain sore. I think it’ll get stronger from this in the long run. My feet seem to have gotten tougher as I don’t complain about them nearly as much as I used to. I did notice that my pre-existing shoulder pain was starting to act up again. I suspect that I might need to pay more attention to how I’m using my mouse arm when standing. Right now, I might be reaching forward without realizing it. I think a good fix would be to attach another board on the front of the mouse side of my desk such that my whole arm can rest at desk height. It might look kind of funky with that “L” shape, but I think it would be effective. Everything else seems to be in good order though! Treadmill still going strong, and people have even started to come to my little blog to comment! yay!

Day 50-70

Weight still going down a bit, but it seems to be leveling off, which is kind of makes sense. I’m increasing my burn rate by using the treadmill, but everything else is staying more or less the same. It’s only a matter of time until I reach another steady state. No new pains, everything is going well!

Day 30-50

By this point, I think I have all of the bugs worked out. I don’t notice walking on the treadmill as much anymore in terms of being tired or sore. I can use it for 2-3 hours a day pretty easily. Much more than that though and the first thing to get sore is my lower back. Not “pain”, but sore, like it’s getting a good workout or like I’ve been standing around the mall all day. (Hopefully that will get better as I push my limits.) My weight has been very slowly going down. (I started at around 172-173 and my most recent measurement is at around 168). I didn’t exactly have a lot of weight to begin with, so I think that’s a significant amount to lose! (My high school track and field weight was around 160, so that’s my lower limit here.) Blood pressure hasn’t changed much at all, but my beats per minute has gone down to the 40′s. (I think I started in the 60′s). That may have been because of a 3 day backpacking trip at relatively high altitude though, as the BPM came down the day after I got back. But it’s been almost 2 weeks since and it has stayed in the 40′s.