Person working at a treadmill desk

Is it difficult to work on a treadmill desk?

Is it difficult to work on a treadmill desk?

When I first heard of the concept of a treadmill desk, I immediately thought "how can somebody work whilst running on a treadmill?!" I've lost count of the amount of times I said to people that "No, I only walk" when explaining about my treadmill desk.

Let's face it, the word "treadmill" conjures up all sorts of images of people sweeting profusely whilst on a running machine in a gym! It's a tough call getting people out of their nice comfy chairs when they associate treadmills with torture devices!

So, first things first - a Lifespan Treadmill Desk has a top speed of 4mph which is a very brisk walk - not a run. In most business installs we limit them to 2mph which is a sedate walk and a rate of speed far more suitable for working.

Now we've addressed that issue, what is it like to work whilst walking? From experience (my favourite speed is 1.1mph) I can tell you it's easy and doesn't take long to get used to it. In fact, I sometimes get off my treadmill to wander around the office and can't even remember if I was walking or standing beforehand.

There are some tasks that are easier than others, but most work tasks undertaken at a standard desk whilst sitting in a chair get be done just as productively whilst walking slowly.

Talking on the phone, reading emails and web browsing whilst walking are all super easy. We can all do those things on our mobile phones whilst on the move but on a treadmill desk there is no danger of walking into something!

Typing is also very easy because your wrists are resting gently on the desktop and do not move (you will need to put you Fitbit etc in your pocket or around your neck to count steps on a treadmill desk).

Spreadsheets are a little more challenging but you will soon get used to it (my inspiration to write this is that I've just done 1.5 miles whilst working on a complicated spreadsheet!).

I would say handwriting is the most challenging, especially if you want to do anything more intricate than just making notes.

There are some mental tasks that will make you want to stop walking too e.g. mental arithmetic or having to think very logically - like playing chess! This is because the brain likes to focus whilst doing these tasks.

Creative tasks however are a different story! How many good ideas do you have whilst sitting down?!

So, on balance a treadmill desk is somewhere you can carry out a very good proportion of administration work. They do have off switches allowing you to stand and if you have a big enough desk you can fit a chair next to your treadmill too. I did that but got rid of it after a week - it's now collecting dust somewhere!

From my treadmil desk in 800 steps.