For many of us, work gets in the way of exercise. There are simply not enough hours in the day to fit in all the work we have to do and a lengthy exercise routine. Some days it can even be too much effort to go for a stroll around the block. Yet, we know that sitting in front of a computer is bad for our health. It can lead to back and shoulder ache and a sedentary lifestyle increases our likelihood of developing cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure and diabetes. It also increases the risk of colon cancer, osteoporosis, depression and anxiety and several other conditions.
If it could be possible to combine working with exercise it would be an ideal solution but you will need the right type of equipment.
What is a treadmill desk?
As the name suggests, a treadmill desk is a treadmill with a desk attachment. This could be a manual treadmill or a motorised version. With a manual treadmill, the motion of you walking or running causes the machine’s belt to move. They are cheaper to buy and don’t need a power supply so you can use them anywhere in your home. They tend to be smaller than the motorised versions and are particularly good for walking.
This makes them ideal for treadmill desks as you only need to be walking at a slow speed when you are working. By using a treadmill desk, you will be using up more energy (and therefore more calories) than if you are simply standing. Also, some people find that it puts less strain on the back – standing still for long periods can cause more back issues than walking does.
However, you do have to be careful if you have existing back or joint problems. It makes sense to build up the time that you use it gradually – perhaps over several weeks and months. If you have serious back or joint problems this may not be for you.
You may also take a while to adjust to working in this way. It can take several weeks for you to learn to write or type at the same time as walking.
Health benefits of treadmills
Treadmills are a great way to get more exercise. They provide a consistent and predictable surface to walk or run on and there is no uneven terrain to worry about. Because you can use them at home, you don’t have to worry about your security when you are out and about, the weather conditions or what you are wearing. It is a very flexible way to exercise – you can walk, jog or run and some treadmills allow you to adjust the incline.
Walking or running on a treadmill will benefit both your musculoskeletal health and your cardiovascular health. It is also very good for your mental health and overall well-being. It can help with weight loss, cholesterol control and heart health.
The NHS describes exercise as a ‘miracle cure’ that has gone unrecognised for too long. It’s a very cost-effective way of looking after your health. The statistics speak for themselves. By exercising, you can reduce the risk that you will develop heart disease, have a stroke or develop type 2 diabetes or cancer by up to 50%. It can also lower your risk of an early death by a staggering 30%
Using a treadmill to walk when working
Once you have got used to combining walking with working you can devise a routine that suits you. Using exercise equipment when working is a relatively new concept. However, some early research has indicated that it is beneficial.
So far, the research has shown the following beneficial health effects. When compared to standing workstations, treadmill workstations required greater movement and activity and made the muscles in the upper limbs work harder. They also made the heart rate increase and lowered the ambulatory blood pressure. The amount of energy used up during the working day was also greater and this means that you are using up more calories.
One benefit that you may not have expected is that treadmill workstations decreased boredom which has got to be a good thing when you are completing a tedious work task! Overall, there is some evidence of short-term physiological changes and short-term productivity benefits.
However, it may be useful to carefully choose which tasks you complete when walking. There was some evidence that people found it more difficult to type and use a mouse when they were walking and this may reduce work performance when it comes to some computer tasks.
As with many things, the best option is probably to find a balance between those tasks that you complete using the treadmill workstation and those that you complete using a traditional desk and chair.