Jan 30, 2014

Enter The Hamster Wheel: My Treadmill Desk

Week one: 52 miles logged while working. Not bad... especially since my fella and I spent the first four days hacking the keyboard platform and ergonomics!

Trundling along improves both health and mental acuity. It also distracts the monkey mind nicely: big bonus. And knocking out 5-6 miles while checking email and noodling on social media = priceless.

I chose a LifeSpan TR1200-DT3 Standing Desk Treadmill ($999) with free delivery from Amazon. It arrived in four days. Awesome.

LifeSpan rates this model for up to 42 hours of striding a week. The company designed this work horse to go slow and steady, maxing out at 4mph. Some folks pace on cheaper run/walk models, but that bumps up the risk of the motor burning out, I've learned.

I wanted to "buy once, buy decently" on the equipment getting the most wear and tear. Then I hacked the desk (bespoke models start at $479 for plasticky designs. We built* a tier onto my existing worktop: this cost $95, because I wanted simple lines and a reasonably attractive pine laminate. But folks have found solutions as cheap as $22.

Other possible cost considerations, if you don't already have this kit:
  • External monitor for a laptop and appropriate cables ($266 for me, but, again, I splurged a little)
  • External keyboard
  • Keyboard wrist wrest to prevent chafing ($19)
  • Silicon belt lubricant ($15)
That's about the long and short of it. The treadmill burns as much energy as 1-2 light-bulbs, so I'm not anticipating much utility-bill pain.

I have trouble typing and handling a coffee cup at more than 2mph, but I can crank over 3mph comfortably while reading or watching a movie. I expect both those speeds will boost with experience.

Best of all, I can't wait to hit my desk every morning now.

Miles to go before I sleep?

Yeah! Bring it!

*We are not super-handy types. But we combined
Parsons Legs and Waddells straight-leg top plates with a 3/4" x 2' x 4' sheet of pine laminate. Home Depot cut the legs and tabletop to suit, then we screwed everything together. I sanded, stained and top-coated the sucker. Bam!

Researching the ergonomics proved the hardest part (there's a lot of conflicting intel out there), as well as double-checking our math and measurements (not a strong suit). With the shopping and the staining, the whole process worked out to 4-5 hours total. For me, that's time well spent to have an attractive custom build nearly $400 less than the cheapest official treadmill desk I could find.

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