If John Wayne Walked on a Treadmill Desk
Participate in any one physical activity long enough and your body will gradually change form in subtle ways, reflecting the dominance of certain muscle groups and postures from participating in that activity. John Wayne’s famous bowlegged swagger reflected his many years bouncing on a saddle. Spend most of your waking hours in a swimming pool like Michael Phelps and you’ll develop that upside-down triangular physique and massive shoulder muscles even before you graduate high school. Lance Armstrong has the monster quads of a cyclist. Mark Wahlberg brandishes a boxer’s guns. Then there’s the Governator (Aahrnold), but we digress.
Some treadmill desk aficionados report their on-the-hoof regimen as being upwards of five hours a day, so will their gait or their body shape change over time to reflect this concentrated activity? It would seem quite likely, unless they balance this activity with others that use different muscles, and especially if they ignore sound advice on stretching and proper pacing.
Not enough time has transpired since the popularization of the treadmill desk in corporations and home offices to make an accurate assessment of the physical transformation treadmill deskers are likely to experience (other than improved metabolic condition and weight loss, of course). One might assume they will develop strong leg and lower back muscles like any distance walker. However the “closed loop” nature of a shorter-than-normal stride due to the arms being tethered to a keyboard much of the time will likely have some effect.
Treadmill deskers who use workstations that are not ergonomically tuned may develop an enhanced “computer hunch” even worse than their sedentary colleagues sport. Typing while walking actually requires you to keep your body further back from the keyboard so that the natural oscillations of walking will not cause you to bang into your desk with every step. Proper use of a treadmill desk would actually aid in improving overall posture and counteracting computer hunch but performing periodic exercises to pull the shoulders back and expand the chest is crucial to achieving this. Minimizing typing time using special aids like hand-held trackballs and speech recognition software will also help immensely.
How’s your body been coping with the rigors of treadmill desking? We’d like to know. Be sure to tell us something about how many hours a week you’re walking while working at your desk and how long your average sessions are.