Why Authors like Treadmill Desks

August 12, 2020
Veronica Roth uses a treadmill desk.

If you take a moment to check treadmill desk demographics, you’ll quickly notice that a few professions are more likely to take the step. Lawyers are right near the top, as are IT workers, engineers and…romance authors?

But that’s the solemn, steamy truth – romance authors love treadmill desks. And, if you think about it, it makes sense. Most romance authors work from home, many hover around middle age, and we could see how writing about hard-bodied protagonists might prompt some thoughts on personal fitness. Not only that, but many of these writers keep personal blogs, and it’s a safe bet that a new treadmill desk will merit a post, so we’ve seen plenty of very positive reviews from this demographic.

Of course, desking isn’t just limited to one genre. Seattle sci-fi master Neal Stephenson was an early treadmill desk adopter, and New Yorker staff writer Susan Orlean’s treadmill desk has long been a hot Twitter topic. Veronica Roth, author of the Divergent series of YA novels walks as she crafts her dystopian futures. And here, in the WorkWhileWalking offices, you’ll find many a proud walking writer – read any article, and there’s a pretty good chance you’re reading material typed out at 1.5mph.

Let’s get to the main question you probably have at this stage: can you type on a treadmill desk?

Some prospective treadmill writers have probably been put off by reports of drops in typing speed and accuracy. And studies have, to an extent, supported these claims. However, it’s important to remember that even the best of these studies only showed that it takes more than four hours to become accustomed to treadmill desking.

Here at WorkWhileWalking, we have no shortage of experienced deskers, so we figured we’d conduct our own miniature study. Several employees around the office took an online test to measure words typed per minute – tests were taken while standing still, while the employee walked at their preferred speed, and once while the employee walked at 3mph, much faster than our recommended speed. While more research is needed for conclusive answers on treadmill typing, our own mini-study found only minimal decreases in speed and productivity. At most, our walking testers typed roughly 5% more slowly than they did while standing, and with no noticeable decrease in accuracy. Even faster speeds failed to have major impacts on typing, although testers did say they probably wouldn’t have been able to maintain the pace and stay productive.

So, is there a drop in typing speed on a treadmill desk? There is, but it’s tiny, and more than made up for by the benefits that come with a walking workday. You’ve likely heard plenty of chatter on the site about the positive health effects of getting up and out of your chair.

Writers who claim that walking makes them feel sharper and fresher aren’t just blowing smoke. Higher levels of activity have a close correlation to improved cognitive function, and slowed cognitive decline. Ever noticed how people on tense phone calls tend to stand up and pace rather than stay seated? Movement helps people focus, and again, research backs that up.

It’s time to hop on, writers. Whether you’re working on the next great American novel or the next great American blog (heck, even the next great American article about treadmill desks), you can benefit from a day in motion.

So, never send to know for whom the tread rolls –

It rolls for thee.

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