FAQs & Practical Tips
WorkWhileWalking.com has amassed the largest body of expertise on the proper setup and use of office fitness equipment, including standing desks, treadmill desks, desk cycles, and standing mats, and it’s all in one place — right here! The advice below comes from the top experts in treadmills, ergonomics, office technology, and the medical field.
We strongly suggest reading the advice in this section before setting up your own ‘active’ workstation. And if you’re already using a standing desk, or a treadmill desk, you’ll still find tons of great advice on improving workstation ergonomics, productivity, and endurance (and consequently, calories burned).
We’ve helped thousands of users get their first treadmill desk—and for that matter, over a million site visitors have read our reviews and advice—so we tapped our staff experts for their favorite tips to new users for the optimal treadmill desking experience, and collected them all here. This is also a good document to review before purchasing your treadmill desk, to make sure you’ve thought through all the issues around placement and ergonomics. We’ve included links to our most popular advice articles for deeper dives into some of the topics below.Know Your Treadmill Review your treadmill manual before it arrives. Once you know what kind of treadmill you’re going to be buying, [...]
Dear valued colleagues,
As you know I have recently adopted the use of a treadmill desk in order to improve my productivity and stave off the ravages of “sitting disease.” Being as these are fairly new devices in the workplace not a lot is commonly known about the proper etiquette when approaching someone who is working on a treadmill desk. I don’t want anyone to ever feel like they’d be interrupting my flow or upsetting me if they needed to get my attention while I was walking, so here’s a helpful guide from the good folks at WorkWhileWalking on “Treadmill Desk Office Etiquette.”
How to approach someone who is working on a [...]
One of the biggest hurdles to widespread treadmill desk adoption in the workplace is that most large enterprises have never had one before and may be reluctant to purchase an entire fleet for their employees, sight unseen. Even when they decide they’re ready to make the jump to a treadmill desk workstation, they often run into difficulty choosing the right one for their needs. We always recommend trying out a treadmill desk yourself before you commit to one (which you can do at SitLess.com’s trialing center), but there are too few brick-and-mortar locations that exhibit an array of full treadmill desks, much less allow anyone to walk in off the street and use [...]
This is one of the most common questions we receive, and while we’d like to give a simple answer, the reality is fairly complex and requires a nuanced response – one that goes beyond the simple lifting capacities published by a stand-up desk manufacturer.Factors to Weigh
These days most people have a lightweight computer, one to four lightweight monitors, perhaps some monitor arms, and a keyboard tray on their desks; in rare cases, they may add a laser printer or a CPU holder underneath their desktop. None of these items on their own need cause worry about straining the motors of an electric desk, but [...]
During the first couple of days with a treadmill desk, new users may be tempted to plough through an entire day’s work on their feet. While it’s an admirable goal, there’s a point of diminishing returns when it comes to intense typing while walking.The Treadmill Desk Learning Curve
The most immediate effect new treadmill deskers may notice is a diminished ability to multitask. While everyone can accomplish a variety of light tasks on the move like talking on the phone or responding to emails, first and second timers tend to find multitasking more difficult when they get to the meatier parts of their work. We suggest leaving those intensive writing tasks to your sitting or [...]
If you work around other people, they probably won’t notice your treadmill is even on, since a well-lubricated treadmill will only register around 50 decibels or less, about the same noise level as someone whispering. What they will notice is your footfall. When walking on a treadmill, every step you take generates vibrations throughout your body. If you’re typing on a desk at the same time, those vibrations also move from your body to your desk. That shaking can be distracting to those walking while working and the workers around them.How to Isolate Vibrations
When you anchor your body to the desktop as you walk and type, you’ll be introducing oscillations into the [...]
Treadmill desks are extremely safe. Don’t get spooked by articles that claim thousands of people a year injure themselves by falling off a treadmill. None of those people were walking at 1 – 2 mph. They were more likely victims of a prank or they themselves unwittingly set the belt speed higher than they could sustain. We’ve yet to hear of anyone falling off a treadmill desk, much less getting seriously injured doing so.
That said, it does require some extra attention to safely mount and dismount a treadmill if the belt is in motion. Want to avoid the problem altogether? Simply don’t mount or dismount unless the belt has come to a complete stop.
We’re often asked [...]
Perhaps the most common misconception about treadmill workstations is that they are “exercise desks.” Though many people who’ve never used a walking treadmill desk may perceive these terms as synonymous, the difference in semantics goes to the core definition of Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (“NEAT”) versus Activity-based Thermogenesis. It doesn’t help that some treadmill desk marketers even use the term “exercise desk” to capture more search engine traffic.
The idea behind walking at 1 – 2 mph on a treadmill desk is to raise your metabolic rate by roughly 150% to 200% above normal resting rate (“basal [...]
Having dealt with hundreds of treadmill desk customers over the years we’ve had our fair share of experiences in dealing with the rare, but occasional problems that can come up both when installing a new treadmill base or working with one that has seen some miles. Our treadmill technical experts have put together this quick list of easy fixes for the most common issues they see.Troubleshooting New Treadmill Installations
We get the occasional call from a user who has just received their treadmill base and are convinced they got a “lemon.” Usually this is because they hear squeaking when they walk on it, or the belt is scraping the edge. Treadmill equipment [...]
Find answers below to frequently asked questions about standing desks and treadmill desks.What is a standing desk?
A standing desk is a desk that offers its user the ability to stand upright while writing, drawing and/or typing. Some standing desks are designed solely for standing, while some offer sit-to-stand functionality. Standing desks are about three times as popular as treadmill desks, mostly because the investment in capital, space and obtaining permission (from the boss at work or spouse at [...]
The new treadmill desk lifestyle has saturated the market in walking workstations of varying degrees of quality. Some treadmills are purpose-built for the office, while others (the majority of DIY workstations, in fact) are mere retreads of existing running treadmills. It may seem like a trivial distinction, but anyone treadmill shopping for their home or office should beware of some very key differences between the two.Walk, Don’t Run
A top speed capability of more than 4.0 mph is the first giveaway that a treadmill desk’s [...]
Does your job require you to spend hours and hours sitting in a chair, staring at a computer screen? You are probably already suffering from sitting disease, and may even be thinking that it’s time to get a treadmill desk to avoid any further health impacts. But how do you get your employer to make the investment?
Until relatively recently, treadmill desks were so “on the fringe” that workers who wanted them often paid for them out of their own pocket. Getting permission to bring one into the office was difficult enough, presuming they even had the space to install one in their office (or else the gumption to ask for a larger office). But times have changed.
Thanks to [...]
Standing desks have gone mainstream, yet there appears to be a bit of confusion about the different labels that both manufacturers and consumers use to describe the different types. Unfortunately it’s mayhem out there, with a lot of casual swapping of non-synonymous terms going on. Let’s clear things up a bit, shall we?
Alternative monikers for things that can allow you to get your work done unseated include standing desk, stand-up desk, sit-stand or sit-to-stand desk, [...]
As the greater body of scientific research illustrates again and again, the negative consequences of too much sitting—metabolic disorders, heart disease, premature death—are plentiful. As a result, more and more offices around the world are giving their employees the option to sit less throughout the day. But are devices like stand up desks, treadmill desks, and sit stand workstations, which make it easy for workers to get more movement out of their day, also causing these workers to sit more when they get home? One scientific study featured in the New York Times Blog by writer Gretchen Reynolds suggests that may be the case. But our staff experts, drawing from their own experience [...]
About once a week or so I find myself hollering at the internet like a cranky old man shooing kids from his yard. This week it’s media coverage of a study on treadmill desks out of Oregon State University that has me riled up.
Each and every one of these headlines about that study misunderstands both the point of the study itself and the principles of “office fitness”:Treadmill Desks Are Pretty Ineffective Do Treadmill Desks Really Work? Not As Well As We Hoped They Do, Unfortunately You Know That Treadmill Desk You Just Installed? That Might Have Been A Mistake If You Bought a Treadmill Desk, the Joke’s on You Even Treadmill Desks Don’t Make Up For Too Much [...]
It’s not always easy being tall. Vertically-blessed, prospective stand up desk and treadmill desk users often run into one simple problem: the industry hasn’t quite reached their level. Even the best of desks are generally designed to ANSI/BIFMA certification standards, and so come with a 22″-47″ range to accommodate 95% of the population. According to US census statistics that means anyone over 6’2″ is going to find themselves out of this range. Add a treadmill deck under your feet and anyone over 5’9″ would be excluded. WorkWhileWalking has added its voice to the cause for a new ANSI/BIFMA standard to apply to desks being used [...]
Happy Friday! This week’s guest post was written by our friends over at Turnkey Office Space, the first stop for anyone in the hunt for new office space (the name may have tipped you off). Read on for their humorous take on the top tips for selling your boss on treadmill desks.
Unless you’re working at Google, you may not have access to a treadmill desk. Perhaps, like so many employees in an office environment, the only time you really get to stretch your legs is when you walk to and from the coffee maker. Your health and productivity could improve drastically if your boss just bought a treadmill desk. But how can you convince him properly? A proposal that goes south [...]
This is a very common question at SitLess.com’s Treadmill Desk Trialing Center in Bellevue, WA. Associates love to demonstrate the different units on the floor because people are always pleasantly surprised to see how quiet they really are. One of the key differences between walking treadmill bases and running treadmills is their lower noise signature, especially at the 1 to 2 mph speed range normally used while treadmill desking.
A proper walking treadmill noise level will barely be noticeable over the normal background noise of an office; typically ranging between 42 decibels (e.g. iMovR) and 57 decibels (Lifespan) when measured [...]
At WorkWhileWalking we not only get to play with all the latest standing and treadmill desk gear in our testing lab but we also get to hear from SitLess.com’s customers who walk into their treadmill desk trialing center in Bellevue, WA, or do business with them online. That’s given us a lot of anecdotal data about what the “average” treadmill desk user looks like, but to this we’ve recently added the result of an online survey of over 230 walking workers.
First, the statistical breakdown from the survey. It may surprise you at first blush, but perhaps not after thinking about it for a moment, that out of this [...]
At WorkWhileWalking we often get asked “how many treadmill desks are in use today,” and the short answer is that nobody really knows. We have taken some market readings, however, that lead us to estimate the figure to be somewhere between 400,000 and 600,000 treadmill desks either purchased or constructed in the United States between 2007 and 2015.
Office furniture behemoth Steelcase was the first commercial manufacturer of treadmill desks, now some seven years in the business. Unverified statistics we’ve seen quoted in major media publications claim sales of 70,000+ Steelcase Walkstation treadmill desks to large corporations as [...]
[Ed: this article was originally contributed to the Dr. Michael Nirenberg’s Flowalking.com blog]
Though 99% of treadmill desk users would probably deny this assertion, it may be statistically accurate. A fraction of people who start using a treadmill desk give it up. Recent studies show that they end up spending about half as much time treadmilling by the end of the first year compared to when they started. What might explain this surprising phenomenon?What Does the Research Say?
A study published in the journal Obesity this year looked at the effectiveness of treadmill desks in promoting physical activity. The team of researchers included individuals from the [...]
At WorkWhileWalking we’re often asked how much electricity treadmill desks consume, and whether the fact that they consume a lot of energy makes them an environmentally unfriendly form of exercise. Like many things in life the answer is complicated. Let’s cut through the mythology and get down to the facts – they will probably surprise you!
First let’s discuss how much electricity your treadmill desk consumes. Even if you have an electric height-adjustable desk you can disregard its power consumption in the big picture because you’ll only be activating that motor for less than a minute a day. Logically, the big power draw will come from the treadmill itself when it’s [...]
Relax, a swarm of snakes has not spontaneously decided to attack your desk. Nor has a forest of exceptionally flexible bamboo sprung up around its legs – no, fellow deskers, what you’re seeing is a workstation in dire need of some cable management.
Keeping your spaghetti straight is important no matter how you’re working. Carefully organizing cables helps keep track of what powers what, makes the office a safer place, and keeps your workstation neat and efficiently arranged. Besides, it just looks nice – well kept cables are pretty enough to have inspired a borderline-fetishist group of cable control enthusiasts (welcome to the internet).
And that’s only for a [...]
Typing intensively while on the treadmill desk will create more muscle strain than walking with your arms by your side. So experienced treadmill desk users have learned to accumulate intensive writing tasks for those hours when they are sitting or standing, and to save up emails and online articles (and videos) to consume, and phone calls to return for walking time. Having said that, some people find that the increased focus they gain while walking makes it the ideal time to compose documents and develop creative works, so this is a very subjective preference. Just keep in mind that when you do dive into intensely focused work you will more readily lose track of time, so set a timer [...]
Remember that Van de Graaff generator in science class? Well, your treadmill is a giant version of it. Any time you have a rubber belt rubbing across a laminated deck you’re going to build up enough static electricity to make a long-haired cat double in apparent size. There are no known ill effects to your physical health from static electricity to worry about but your computer equipment can be in serious jeopardy if you don’t take some precautionary measures. Skip this step and you may unwittingly fry your computer just by touching the keyboard with your fingertip.
Needless to say if your treadmill has a three-pronged plug don’t put a converter on it and plug it into an [...]