Treadmill Desk

Remember the movie Nim’s Island and Jodie Foster’s character who is an agoraphobic who never leaves her house? She’s a writer and she uses her laptop while walking on the treadmill. I guess the idea has been in the back of my mind ever since I saw the movie. Recently, with the weight gain and wanting to get in more steps for this challenge at work, the idea came back and I started doing some research.

It’s actually a pretty cool field of study. Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic came up with the idea of a “Treadmill Desk”. The idea is to slowly walk on a treadmill while working at a desk built around the treadmill…a Treadmill Desk. Here are more details and some pictures: http://www.treadmill-desk.com. His research suggests that by not doing anything else, if we walked on the treadmill while we worked, instead of sitting in front of a desk for eight hours, that we’d lose 57 pounds in one year. In addition, his patients report feeling more refreshed after a day walking than from a day sitting at their desk. This is one of those things that make you go hmmmmmmm.

So then I started thinking about what I wanted from my treadmill desk:

  • Needed to be the right height for comfort and to avoid carpel tunnel kinds of issues
  • Needed to be stable – can’t have the laptop falling off and then stepping on it
  • Needed to be a certain depth to allow me plenty of room to walk without bumping into it
  • Needed to be a certain width to fit on the treadmill and not overlap into the already crowded bedroom
  • Needed to be able to reach the treadmill controls to start and stop, change speed or elevation and adjust the fan
  • Needed to be free or super cheap as we are on the tightest budget that I’ve been on since college

We have some Elfa shelves and initially I thought I’d do something with that, but I really wanted a curved front and you just can’t cut the MDF material easily. Plus, those shelves are expensive – I didn’t want to ruin one.

So I stopped at a thrift store in town. You all know my addiction to thrift stores and I had not gone to this one before. We’re broke, we don’t really need anything and so I was staying away. But this was a pretty good excuse, right? I needed something for my treadmill desk! I was amazingly lucky and found an old wooden bed tray. It has a raised edge around the sides which keeps stuff from slipping off AND it has a curved front which makes it easier to walk in front of it. Best of all, it was only $5.

I brought it home and took off the stand (luckily just screwed into the bottom, not glued). So far so good, but it was too narrow to fit across the treadmill arms, so I would need something to rest it on. I found a piece of pine left over from another project (you know we NEVER throw anything away) and that was the perfect length but a little narrow. I used a c-clamp to attach the tray to the board and that felt pretty solid. But it was much too low for comfort. I tried to find the styrofoam blocks suggested on the website, but the three places I checked didn’t have them. I started earching through the garage thinking that with all the stuff we shipped from Atlanta, there must be some packing materials there other than boxes and paper. Then I spotted the JK Adams wine rack sitting on top of the shelf. Hmm. Modular. Width seemed about right to fit over the handles and the top would provide a nice open base for the tray and board.

I used a two bottle section on each side, removed the cross pins from the bottom row and viola! A rest for my desk tray. It was too loose, so I wrapped paper around the handles and then pushed the wine rack sections down over the paper, adding more until it was tight enough to hold the wine rack without jiggling.

Then I used a couple more c-clamps to attach the board to the wine rack. Eventually I may glue the stuff together, but want to try it with the c-clamps for now to allow for any re-engineering ideas that crop up.

Mine doesn’t look as cool and groovy as the pictures on Dr Levine’s website, but it works! I’m typing while walking 2 mph. I was surfing on Facebook a few minutes ago. Guilt free Facebook – how cool is that? I’ve been going for about 20 minutes now and it’s great. I could probably crank up the speed or the incline, but I’ll try that another day. I’m going to turn on my light therapy box too.

This makes me feel very positive. I made some progress this week facing and dealing with my stress related grazing so that’s good too. And it’s the final week of the walking challenge so I’m motivated to walk all day for the next week because my team is in 11th place and I want to finish in at LEAST the top 10.

Everyone have a great day and let me know what you think of my new treadmill desk or if you have any ideas to improve it.

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