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have been thinking about getting a treadmill desk for awhile now but I just don't know if it is possible to code at one. I can see doing a normal computer job while walking very slow but I just don't know if you can write code do it.

Like a lot of people I could stand to lose weight and I am just not in shape anymore. I sit at my computer for at least 12 hours a day and then I am on my laptop for a few more hours. I need to do something to help my health. I also have been seeing a lot of reports about the long term health issues related to desk jobs. Like this.

Before I drop a few hundred dollars on a new desk I am wondering if anyone has tried a treadmill desk and if so which one?

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closed as off topic by maple_shaft Apr 2 '12 at 10:59

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This probably isn't what you're looking for, mate, but a gym membership is a lot cheaper and would probably help you a lot more. I don't know about you, but I can barely listen to music when I code - having to walk and type AND think would completely throw me off. –  kivetros May 24 '11 at 19:34
I would think some sort of reclining exercise-bike tpye of desk would be better than a treadmill, for the fact that if you are sitting and only working your legs, your upper body will move around less than if you are walking - I would think this could be a problem since the upper body is moving slightly with every step, but the keyboard and mouse are stationary. –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner May 24 '11 at 19:36
Instead of spending bucks on something you may or may not like, why not just get out for 30-45 minutes during the day? I make it a point to run 3-4 miles 2-3 times during the week at lunch. If you think you're out of shape, start a couch to 5K program. You can't begin to imagine how much better you feel getting your heart rate up for a bit. And you'd be surprised how many issues you solve by getting away from your desk. Another idea is (if possible) bike to work. I am able to do this as well, and it's great. Just a thought. –  DevSolo May 24 '11 at 19:37
@kivetros: The OP's root complaint seems to be that too much time needs to be spent at the desk. I get the impression they don't have the luxury of just cutting short the 12-hour coding day and heading to the gym - otherwise I think they would have done it by now (because it does seem obvious). –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner May 24 '11 at 19:37
The gym and working out / eating better is a separate topic to me. I know that I can and should be better in that arena but I am talking about the fact that sitting for long periods of time is not good for you no matter how good you are at other things like exercise and your diet. –  Sequenzia May 24 '11 at 19:45

4 Answers 4

up vote 16 down vote accepted

I code at a treadmill desk. I got a treadmill and a TrekDesk (no affiliation), and it works well for me. I'm not overweight, I just got tired of sitting all day and making special trips to go out just to move about. Now I walk during the day and take breaks to sit down, which feels better. It also lets me keep better posture.

It's interesting reading responses from well-meaning but ultimately uninformed people who are opining on something they haven't personally tried. While it's good to take others' opinions into consideration, the best answer is always the one we want to hear the least, that some things you have to try out for yourself to see if it works for you or not.

Let me also add that it's a lot easier to stand up straight while walking than just standing at a standing desk. I tried just standing and I ended up leaning one way or another. While walking you can't do that.

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An answer to the question! yehha!. –  mattnz May 25 '11 at 1:26
I see from the picture at trekdesk.com that you have to turn a little bit sideways to get enough room. Doesn't that bother you / hurt your hips? Or I may be completely uninformed - but the space directly up front doesn't look like much. Also, have you considered a TV mounted treadmill? After all, you could watch something you like for 45 minutes too - you don't have to workout all day. –  Subu Subramanian May 25 '11 at 2:43
thanks for your response. I was hoping to hear from someone who actually uses a treadmill desk to code. With the TrekDesk do you have any issues with the position of your hands? Some of the videos I have watch on that looks like it might be kind of low for me. I know it all depends on my height but I am wondering if you have any issues with the position of your hands and getting the right ergonomics. Thanks again! –  Sequenzia May 25 '11 at 15:46

I think you will have better luck if you start with a standing desk. First of all, the treadmill desks I have seen either cost way more than a few hundred dollars, or are DIY built on your existing treadmill. Second of all, learning to type while walking seems like it could be a big hit to your productivity. If you really aren't in shape, a standing desk would be a good transition.

The simplest one I've seen is this one built by Marco Arment, who created Instapaper. He talks about it on this podcast.

In the interests of full disclosure I personally don't use a standing desk yet, because I'm still trying to figure out how to build one in my existing office. My company won't pay for supplies so it will have to be pretty DIY.

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You need a supportive chair, just standing still for 8 hours is not good. –  user1249 May 24 '11 at 20:34
Actually, I think sitting (properly) on an exercise ball for a few hours a day is probably the best first step. –  Dean Harding May 24 '11 at 22:25
I switched to a standing desk for my home office a while ago and it's a (very) good start. Standing for 6-10 hours while working on a project is an excellent exercise. Just make sure you wear good shoes! (Or none at all.) –  Andreas Jun 7 '11 at 10:45
  1. sign up to the gym, train muscles (they burn more energy) and do cardio interval training.
  2. eat a little every three hours, REGULARLY. irregular meals train your body to store fat.
  3. drop junk food.
  4. eat lots of protein, much less carbs and fat.
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+1 for an answer with some "sanity" :-P –  S.Robins Apr 2 '12 at 10:50
@S.Robbins: Very true. –  ZweiBlumen Apr 2 '12 at 11:16
1-3 are good ideas but 4 is completely wrong. Eat whole unprocessed food, mostly starch (i.e. carbs). Beans, whole grains, brown rices, potatoes, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. The fewer animal products the better, ideally none. 80% carbs, 10% fat, 10% protein is ideal for a human being and happens naturally when you eat whole food, plant-based. –  James Wald Mar 28 at 22:31
I'm not saying you should eat animal-based protein! Soya is fine. You need protein to develop muscles. –  quant_dev Mar 29 at 10:54

While I still stand by my previous answer as good advice, I feel that I should add another one that at least actually attempts to answer the question, and not just address the root of the problem.

One thing you might want to consider is replacing your chair with a large exercise ball. It is not exercise necessarily and doesn't provide back support, but it requires energy of your body to maintain your balance. This has been proven to increase your daily Calorie burn by as much 150 a day, just by sitting at your desk.

I know it doesn't sound like a lot but that can add up over time.

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