Category Archives: Fitness

desk treadmill

Desk treadmill activity review – 2016

It’s a new year!  I know I haven’t mentioned my walking status for awhile, mainly because I forgot to.  My desk treadmill also had numerous problems, too.  After working with Lifespan extensively along with quite a bit of arm twisting on my TR1200-DT3, they finally agreed to upgrade my desk treadmill to the TR5000-DT3 model at a reduced price.  Basically, the motor kept going out, despite maintaining it properly, and my use being well within the specifications. The TR5000 has a more powerful motor.  So far, the new desk treadmill runs great.  However, I didn’t encounter issues with my TR1200-DT3 until about six months in, so the jury is still out.  I’m going to post a separate piece about my issues, in case it helps others.

I’m writing this post now without any idea about how many steps I actually walked in 2016.  I fully expect it to be lower though because of the above problems.  My treadmill has down for half the year.  I can’t do much about that, and how long it took Lifespan to get a solution.

As I did before, I’m compiling a list of all my weekly progress of steps tracked by my Lumo Lift, which helps me keep good posture that helps avoid neck pain, but also tracks the number of steps I take surprisingly accurately.  Roughly, 2,000 steps = 1 mile.

Obviously, not all walking was done on my desk treadmill, but a lot of it was.  When you see dips in weekly steps, that’s likely a business trip, vacation, I exercised some other way other than anything that would trigger detected steps, or I was outright lazy for whatever reason.  The prolonged downturn in the spring through fall was due to the treadmill breaking down.

Week (ending of)StepsMilesNotes
2/215303326Business trip
3/66218131Business trip
3/136537432Business trip
4/172958714Death in family
4/246831934Treadmill broke down
9/44643623Vmworld, forgot Lumo charger
10/210803254Treadmill finally replaced!
10/164291921Treadmill broke again!
10/304468022Business trip
11/66319731Treadmill replaced!
11/137737238Business trip

You can clearly see that having an operational treadmill makes a huge difference!

Well, my step count is significantly lower than 2015.  I don’t feel too bad about that though because the treadmill broke down multiple times.

Still, 1640 miles in a year is quite a lot!  To give you an idea, that’s about the distance from Richmond, VA to Denver, CO!

I gained some weight unfortunately.  2016 was a very stressful year, and a lack of a convenient method of exercising while working didn’t help.  I do need to eat better.  That’s my goal for 2016.

Assuming my desk treadmill doesn’t break down again, I’m setting a goal of 2500 miles.  That’s roughly the distance from Richmond, VA to San Diego, CA.  I also am now going to try to couple walking with eating right to see how my weight does.  Just from my experiences in 2015 and 2016, walking this much alone doesn’t seem to allow me to lose weight.  Not that I ate terribly, but I didn’t watch what I ate closely either.

And as I finish this post, I just completed my 7.5 miles of walking for the day!  364 more days of walking to go!

Desk treadmill activity review – 2015

I wanted to start this year off with an update on my desk treadmill/walking update.  I intended to do more frequent progress updates, but it’s hard to do that and blog on technical topics as much as I’d like.  But this kind of update is better than none at all.

As I am drafting this, I’m compiling a list of all my weekly progress of steps tracked by my Lumo Lift, which helps me keep good posture that helps avoid neck pain, but also tracks the number of steps I take surprisingly accurately.  Roughly, 2,000 steps = 1 mile.  My Lumo Lift did break however the last week of the year.  It wasn’t the product’s fault.  It inadvertently got smashed, let’s just say in a manner that it was unsurprising that it didn’t work thereafter.  I just got my replacement today, so I’m back to tracking my steps!

Obviously, not all walking was done on my desk treadmill, but a lot of it was.  When you see dips in weekly steps, that’s likely a business trip, vacation, or I exercised some other way other than anything that would trigger detected steps.  I’m pretty sure before I compile this data there’s going to be some insane amounts here.

Also, for some stupid reason, I deleted some weekly progress emails that I used to track this at the beginning.  I was able to salvage some from when I began, but you’ll see a large gap until I consistently saved them starting in June.  Bottom line is I walked actually a lot more than this.

Total38298971896HOLY CRAP!!!
3/3016147780TOO HYPED!
7/69023945Business trip
10/263912219Business trip
11/25926929Business trip
12/76902834Business trip
12/148024740Business trip
1/33765218Lumo broken

First off, there’s quite a few funny things in the table.  By far is the fact that I walked 80 miles my first week with the treadmill, but never exceeded it, although I did come close on the week of June 1st.  I was pumped to use it, and I was doing work at home conducive to allowing me to walk without issues, and I was excited to get going on it even into the night.

But reality does kick in.  The thing I’ve learned about using the desk treadmill is it’s hard to walk and concentrate REALLY hard on something, like training, unless it’s an urgent thing.  If I’m working with a customer interactively, I’m fine.   If I’m troubleshooting a problem, I’m also fine walking on the treadmill.  If I’m learning something new?  Not fine.  And that’s why the crazy 70+ mile weeks stopped to keep up my learning and lab stuff I did.

But even with me reducing some of the miles I walked, I still pretty darn consistently walked A LOT.  I knew I was racking up miles, but it’s really eye opening tallying it up and seeing almost 2000 miles.  There is absolutely zero doubt in my mind I well exceeded 2000 miles in 2015 walking considering all the weeks I didn’t save the emails for, and I would never have come close to that without the desk treadmill.

I also lost weight, but not nearly as much as I would like.  I did in all drop about 15 pounds, but considering I walked over 2000 miles, that’s disappointing, and I know it’s because I snack too often.  I need to get a better grip on not eating while maintaining this level of physical activity.

But all in all, the desk treadmill has improved my health, and I’m very glad I did it!

Treadmill desk helpful accessories

In a previous post, I mentioned how much my treadmill desk has changed my life.  I wanted to get that first post out there because I’ve noticed probably because they’re still not that widely used, there’s not a lot of information out there about what to expect, things you might need to go with it, etc.  While this is predominantly a tech blog, I want to help others who are using them, and perhaps they can also share with me anything they’ve found helpful as well.  By all means, I’m not the be all end all expert on a treadmill desk, but I am an early adopter, so I wanted help others who are getting started, too.

I also want to point out that some of these accessories are being recommended due to how much I use my treadmill desk, which is A LOT.  My daily goal is a minimum of 15,000 steps (about 7 miles),  and I try to average over a week about 20,000 steps (about 10 miles), and my personal daily record to date is 35,007 steps, or 17 miles!  That’s a lot of walking!  If you don’t plan to use your desk treadmill that much, some of these may not be needed.


Right off the bat, you probably should consider purchasing a few items in this category.  Thankfully, these items are not generally that expensive.  For one, get a dedicated pair of shoes just for walking on the treadmill.  This helps keep your treadmill as clean as possible, and it also allows you to buy the most suitable pair of shoes for walking, even if they aren’t the best looking, or don’t work well for other types of activities.  I tried running shoes that I used exclusively for indoor exercising such as on my elliptical.  I tried a hiking show based on some web research.  I tried a cross trainer from Skechers I had that I love.  I tried some inserts for them all.  I always thought that dedicated walking shoes were just another way for shoe makers to make you buy another pair of shoes.

Friends, I was wrong.  If you walk a lot, and there’s a good chance you will, get some good walking shoes.  After some research, I got some ASICS Gel Quickwalk 2’s, which were around $50.  Before these, I was getting blisters, and my feet were killing me no matter which of the above I tried.  These were totally worth it, and I highly recommend them.

One shoe I do not recommend at all – any Crocs!  I had some old Crocs I barely used just for walking back and forth to the mailbox, so I cleaned those up, and tried them.  They were extremely comfortable and stopped the blistering.  I loved them, but unfortunately, the tread at the balls of my feet wore out in about 3 weeks.  I thought maybe they were on their way because I’d had them for almost 10 years, so I bought a brand new pair made for hiking.  Within two weeks, you could see the same thing was going to happen.  Treadmills eat Crocs for dinner.  Don’t bother.

You may also want some alternative fabric clothing from cotton.  Exercise shirts, shorts, and underwear made from significant portions of polyester, spandex, and other fabrics prevent sweating, chafing, etc.

For those of you like me who will sweat embarrassingly a lot no matter what physical activity you do, even slower walking you typically do on a desk treadmill, I found one other helpful accessory – the Halo headband.  It’s an alternative fabric sweatband with a rubber sweat barrier that prevents sweat from running down your face.  If you like them, buy two to rotate out while the other is getting washed.


Make sure you get something that’s dishwasher safe since you’ll use it a lot, has a good washable straw and cap, and contains plenty of liquid.  You’ll be drinking a lot, and it’s way too easy to spill a drink on your expensive treadmill or desk while walking, so the lid and straw are essential.

I love Tervis Tumblers.  Get a few big ones with caps and straw, and they’re also great because they keep your drink cold and don’t drip condensation.  They’re expensive, but IMO completely worth it.

Computer Stuff

Especially because of my two bad disks in my neck, ergonomics is very important to me.  IMO, it’s mandatory that you get displays that are raised up ergonomically, so do whatever is required for that, which usually involves VESA mount compatible LCD panels and some monitor mounts that allow height adjustments to be at about slightly below eye level. is great for some lower cost options.  If different people will be using these monitors on your treadmill desk, make sure you select monitor mount options that can easily adjust on the fly.

I also strongly believe an ergonomic keyboard is a must.  I can’t imagine typing while walking with a conventional keyboard.  I used to use the quite affordable Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 3000 wired keyboard because of their price, so I could throw them in the dishwasher to clean them, and if they died, it wasn’t a big deal, but the newest versions of these keyboard have quite honestly horrible action.  I recently changed to a wireless Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic keyboard, and I love it.  My only issue is when you rest your palms on the front rest, it can tip the keyboard towards you.  I got some cheap rubber anti-skid stickers, and popped those on the front edge of the keyboard, and that corrected that problem.  The action on this keyboard is as good as you’ll get without getting something with mechnical buttons.

Use whatever you like for a mouse, but I used to use one of those hard mousing “surfaces” PC gamers often like.  However, there’s so little friction that walking tends to cause you to move your mouse ever so slightly with them, so I switched back to a high quality gaming mouse fabric type pad from Steelseries, and that works much better.  Now I can walk even when I play first person shooters on my PC.

You Gotta Sit

I know, this sounds weird, you get a treadmill to walk, so why would you ever want to sit?  I had false images of grandeur of walking all the live long day while I worked.  Look up at those walking numbers.  That seems like a lot, but that’s not walking 8 hours a day usually.  You do need to sit from time to time, and believe me, it is simply not practical to move the treadmill out.  And at least for my office chair, the deck wasn’t wide enough for the chair wheels to sit flat, not to mention the wheels would probably be horrible for the treadmill belt anyway.

I first tried a friend’s recommendation to put an exercise ball on top of the treadmill and use that.  It’s better for you than sitting in a backed chair, as it promotes better posture and strengthens your core muscles.  Plus, it’s dirt cheap for a chair!  Awesome!

I tried to make it work.  I gave it a good solid month, but in the end, I absolutely couldn’t stand it, and I ended up slumping and putting my elbows on the table to rest from all the walking, which hurt my back.  It did motivate me to get back up and walk, but honestly, I was motivated to walk anyway.

I finally had a friend of a co-worker who does wood working build me a platform to put my chair on.  I’ll post about it in the future, but it’s something you may need to consider in the meantime.

PS.  Somebody should totally do a Kickstarter campaign for an easy to assemble solution for that.

Activity Tracker

The Lifespan TR1200-DT3 treadmill does come with a step counter, with calories burned, steps walked, and distance right into the treadmill.  It even supports bluetooth connections to your smartphone and what not, but the software and interface quite honestly suck.  It’s one of the few things that just plain don’t work well unless you manually write down from the unit what you’ve done.

If you want to track your walking, I would recommend getting whatever activity tracker you like.  My wife uses an inexpensive Jawbone Up Move, which works well.  I use a Lumo Lift, since it tracks steps and buzzes at me to notify me if my posture isn’t good, which helps my neck.  Choose whichever one works for you to easily track your steps and what not.


I had no idea how hot treadmills get until I put one in my already hot office.  My office was bad enough before I put this thing in here.  It’s one office with one doorway, three windows, my workstation with 4 monitors, my wife’s PC with three monitors, a PC running Windows Home Server, an Iomega IX-4 for a lab NAS, a router, a switch, a FIOS cable modem, and a partridge in a pear tree.  It’s also upstairs.  It’s now the summer time.  Just being upstairs adds 5F to the average temperature since I don’t have dual zones.  This office was another 3F before the treadmill even runs.  Ceiling fans only do so much.  When this thing is going, I tried putting a desk fan blowing in my face, but that irritated my eyes, and it wasn’t enough anyway.  We already had a portable AC unit for this room, so it has to get cranked down even more when I’m walking.

Also, due to all the computer equipment, I was already borderline for power.  The treadmill was the straw that broke the camel’s back, so I had to hire an electrician to run another line up.  Otherwise, doing so much as running a vacuum cleaner upstairs tripped the breaker for most of the upstairs power.

Obviously, everyone’s situation is different for both of those.

Also, if you sweat like I do and need a way to listen to sound on your computer privately, consider some kind of earbuds that are sweat friendly.  I had some big headphones I absolutely loved to listen to music with at my computer because they were so comfortable and sounded good, but with the heat in the room, it was like jogging in the summer with super insulated earmuffs on.  They now live at my wife’s desk.

So there you have it, my list of accessories to look into for your treadmill.

Have you gotten a desk treadmill?  What accessories would you recommend?

My Treadmill Desk – A Life Changer

In a previous post, I mentioned that as an IT pro, it can be a struggle to get stay healthy.

I’ll discuss how I changed my diet radically in a later post, but I wanted to talk about my treadmill desk.  A lot of people have been interested in it, so I wanted to get this post out there sooner rather than later.  I also have a lot of tricks, tips, etc. that I want to follow up with later, too.

Recently, there has been a lot of news about how sitting is slowly killing us because they tend to force people to sit for so much of their day.  Studies have been coming out that show that simply getting up every so often can significantly improve your health, including your metabolism, posture, weight control, blood pressure, and all kinds of health benefits.  More studies have been coming out showing the benefit of the ever increasingly popular standing desks.

About a year or so ago, I threw two disks out in my neck, and ever since, I’ve been more conscious about my posture.  The specialists I saw let me know that this kind of thing is increasingly common because people bend their necks to look at their phones, tablets, and even computer screens.  Considering so much of my time is spent on these kinds of devices, I really began noticing just how bad my posture was when using them, but especially when I was in front of my computer.  I tried better office chairs, but that didn’t seem to be enough, as my neck would still hurt.  I noticed when I sat, I inevitably slumped in my chair, and my neck posture wasn’t correct.

One day, I was working at a customer’s site, and the admin I was working with had a standing desk.  After talking with her about it, she suggested we work together using it for the day to see how I’d like standing.

By the end of the day, yes, my feet hurt, but my neck didn’t.  It felt noticeably better than how it does at my house or workplace.  I also had a friend online who bought a treadmill desk about a year before and raved about how it helped him drop weight and feel better. I could definitely stand to lose some weight.   Naturally, I felt a treadmill desk would be a good fit.

After researching and even trying some models out, I came to the conclusion I needed the following:

  1. A reliable treadmill that could go as slow as 1.8mph and as fast as 3.5mph, with a control module on top of the desk.   The speed isn’t hard to find.  The de facto treadmill people go with is the Lifespan TR1200-DT3, and that’s what I went with.
  2. A standing desk that would mechanically adjust, via a powered motor, with at least 3 memory settings for height.  (One for me standing, one for me sitting, and one for my wife standing when she would use it.)
  3. A desk that would adjust to heights that would be ergonomic for my arms bending at roughly 90 degree angles.
  4. A desk that would work with VESA monitor mounts to ensure the monitors could be set at a height about eye level.
  5. Although not absolutely necessary, it would be great to have a desk that had a solution for undermounting the CPU under the desk to not have to worry about any cord lengths other than maybe power.
  6. A desk wide enough to hold everything on my desk.
  7. NO INTEGRATED WRIST PAD!  The Lifespan desk/treadmill bundle had this, and when I tried it, I ABSOLUTELY hated it.
  8. A premade package to ensure I wasn’t buying something that couldn’t for example hold my computer underneath, and would be easy to assemble, despite the higher cost.

I settled on an Uplift from The Human Solution in black, 72″ wide model.  It included an undermount for my computer, the electric motor, four height memory setting, a good warranty, pre-drilled holes to make assembly very easy, and it was reasonably priced compared to the competition. Here’s some pictures, and pardon the cord mess, I hadn’t installed wire management at the time.

Here’s the CPU mount close up:


Here is the treadmill and desk controls:


So far, it’s been a complete life changer.  I’ve dropped 15 points since I purchases it about four months ago.  My neck feels better, I have more energy, and I just generally feel much better.

However, there’s been a learning curve to using it, and other things I needed to make it work for me you may not think about, which I’ll talk about in future posts.

Have any of you been thinking about getting a standing desk or a treadmill desk?  Have any of you gotten either?  How has it worked for you?


Physical fitness as an IT Pro

You gotta do it.  You just got to.  You have to focus on your physical fitness.

I’m speaking of being physically fit.  Not Arnold Schwarzenegger fit.  Not run a marathon without breaking a sweat fit.  But you have to be reasonably healthy.

Let’s face it, our jobs in IT, whether you’re a consultant, programmer, admin, or anything else is very often not conducive to your health.  Irregular work patterns due to emergencies, or rushing to meet some kind of deadline that’s crept up, long days sitting in your desk without a chance to move around much, perhaps a family life to keep up with as well, and the fact that perhaps a disproportionate amount of us aren’t really into playing sports or generally go outside leads many of us into very bad habits when it comes to my health.

I’m included.  When I graduated from high school, I was 180 pounds at 6’1″, could bench 250, and in very good health.

By the time I graduated from college, I was 220.  Paying for college tuition myself without student loans led to a hectic schedule of studying, working part time, taking classes, and eating conveniently, which often meant not well.

It just got worse when I transitioned into IT from teaching.  At least with teaching, I walked around A LOT.  When I got into IT, you SSH’ed into this, RDP’ed into that.  It wasn’t good.  I got up to about 330 pounds.  My doctor diagnosed me with high triglycerides.   I knew at that point, I had to do something, so I did.

I realized this – what’s the point of working hard in anything, even if it’s your passion, if it’s going to lead to a short life that you haven’t been able to do the things you want?

I realize that many of you may struggle with the same thing.  I’m no saint, but I did manage to drop 100 pounds to 230 via diet.  I did balloon back to 270 (never over), but I’ve managed to drop 15 pounds in the last 4 months or so,  so I’m doing better again.  My high triglycerides have gone away, and never came back.  I feel better, too.

I want to share what I did because some of it might work for you.  I also wanted it to be from someone who truly still struggles with it, because it is tough to do.  Perhaps all this may motivate and work for others also working in similar occupations that may struggle with how to maintain health when it seems like everything in your career goes against you doing just that.

This category is all about this topic.  Spoiler alert – I bought a treadmill desk, so this category is going to have a lot of information about this, and how my use of it has evolved, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, what things have you done to get healthier that have worked for you, whether it be exercise routines or diet?