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.
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.
www.monoprice.com 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.
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?