For those looking to overcome a sedentary lifestyle, the desk treadmill could be the answer to getting more physical activity into your day. Sitting for long periods of time, whether you are active or not, increases your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and even death, according to several recent studies. Consumer Reports is testing two desk treadmills, so stay tuned for the findings. Meanwhile, here are tips from our testers on how to best make use of one.
Ease into using a desk treadmill. Don't get rid of your regular desk and chair just yet. Slowly work up the amount of time you spend on the treadmill, and alternate with sitting at a desk. Before you start walking, make sure your wrists are flat by the keyboard, your elbows form a 90-degree angle, and your eyes are at the height of the monitor. Good ergonomics can increase productivity and reduce your risk of injury and discomfort.
Start with easier tasks. Some of our testers found that it was easier to browse the Web and read e-mails while on the desk treadmill, but typing and writing were challenging. Tasks that required full concentration, such as walking while writing and editing, were even tougher. But those may become easier once you get accustomed to the setup.
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Don't make it a race. The recommended walking speed while working on a computer is less than 2 mph, and in most instances our testers worked comfortably at or below 2.5 mph. Sometimes, however, our testers noted that talking on the phone while walking led to unprofessional heavy breathing, and even the noisiness of the machine itself interfered with phone calls at times. Walking at slower speeds was a disappointment for some testers, who thought they would be getting a true treadmill exercise. It is important to remember that the purpose of the desk treadmill is not for exercise, but rather to keep your metabolism above a resting state.
Consider standing still instead. Some of our testers who were not fans of the desk treadmill did like the concept of standing instead of sitting. So if you think a desk treadmill might not be right for you, consider using a standing desk. And if you're not ready to give up the chair at all, try to schedule walking meetings with your team, or get up every so often to take a few laps around the building.