Did you know the average person spends more time per day sitting than they do sleeping? That a slew of recent studies show a strong correlation between sitting and weight gain, sitting and overall mortality, sitting and heart disease, and sitting and loss of bone density?
As a writer, my work keeps me sitting in front a computer for hours a day. I sit while I research and write blog posts. I sit while I write books. I sit while I teach online courses and provide customer support. I sit while I promote my work on Facebook. And then, when I’m all done working for the day, I sit while I watch TV and movies, sit while I surf the net, and sit while I read books.
Sitting is unhealthy.
As a health and nutrition writer, I catch wind of the latest news reports and blog posts about the dangers of sitting too much. If I could summarize their findings in one sentence, it would be this:
Sitting too much will kill you.
There, I said it.
Despite my sedentary work and leisure, I still thought of myself as mildly active. After all, I home school three young kids. I take them to play dates at the park. We go on walks to the library or park or river.
Eventually, though, I found myself wanting … more. More activity. More play. More exercise. I thought I’d be deliberate and joined my town’s Rec Center. A gym. Weights. Salt water pools. An indoor track. Surely I’d pop into a class or two a week and use their weights, right? NO EXCUSES!
Except there were excuses.
The truth is, setting aside time for exercise requires that you do just that — MAKE time. And I’m quite busy. If I’m going to MAKE time to do anything, it’s going to be to go on a date with my husband or to get engrossed in my latest book.
The eye-opening gadget that changed my life.
I decided I wanted to know just how sedentary my life really was. So, I bought a FitBit One.
It’s a sleep and activity tracker.
It counts how many steps you’ve taken in a day, how many floors you’ve climbed, how much sleep you’ve had. It also charts it all with a free online app that you can download to your smartphone. Not only do you see your progress, but you can “friend” people on the app and keep each other accountable.
It even acts as a cheerleader, periodically sending you messages to tell you to kick it up a notch or congratulating you on reaching your goals.
So, I put it on, then wore it for a few days to see just how sedentary my “mildly active” life is.
The standard, out-of-the-box goal with the FitBit is to log 10,000 steps a day. My typical day? About 2,000 steps.
Then I decided I’d go for a real walk. I walked down to the river and along the river trails. I pushed myself farther than I’ve ever gone. I stayed out twice as long as my typical walk-for-exercise-walk. I got blisters on my feet and collapsed in a heap when I got home.
How many steps was that walk of monumental proportions? 8,500 steps.
I don’t have time to go for hour-long walks every day. How would I *ever* get to the base-level goal of 10,000 steps?
The Movement Solution for Desk Jockeys Like Me
About six months ago one of my friends read this article by Chris Kresser and got very excited.
I’m going to save up for this!
It was a treadmill desk.
I scoffed at the idea. For one, I hate treadmills. If I’m going to walk, I want to go places. Next, I couldn’t imagine how I could possibly type and walk at the same time!
So while she bought a treadmill desk and started using it, I started fantasizing about a standing desk.
Then another friend bought a treadmill desk, and another one. Before I knew it, four of my friends had bought treadmill desks.
Call it peer pressure.
The truth is, their experience with a treadmill desk convinced me. My objections? Crumbled.
My normal walking speed when I’m out for exercise? About 4 miles per hour. My normal walking speed when I’m out for a leisurely stroll? About 2.5 miles per hour.
The normal walking speed of my friends working on a treadmill desk? About 1.5 miles per hour.
According to them, you’re walking so slowly that it hardly feels like walking. It’s very easy to type or read when you’re going that slowly.
Plus, if you’re working at your desk, you’d already be staying in one place anyway. So, my typical objection to treadmill’s not going anywhere falls flat. I’m working at my desk! I’m already not going anywhere. At least this way, there’s some base-level movement going on.
Don’t call it exercise.
From what I’ve gathered, working at a treadmill desk doesn’t even feel like exercise. And really, it hardly counts. It’s not like lifting weights or tabata squats or any sort of natural movement play.
The only goal is to stop being sedentary despite my desk job. A standing desk can do that, but according to most, a treadmill desk is more natural. It’s hard to stand in one place and work! It’s easy to move slowly.
My friends casually log their 10,000 steps within two to three hours of working at their treadmill desk.
And even better? They all report increased energy levels, a desire to make time for more energetic exercise, and significant weight loss.
Taking the plunge.
So, I did it. I bought the LifeSpan TR1200-DT Treadmill Desk.
I picked this one because it came highly recommended by two of my friends, Ann Marie of Cheeseslave and Vanessa of Healthy Living How-To.
I bought this desk for a few reasons.
1) I wanted something super-sturdy. I’ll be using my desktop computer at the treadmill desk, rather than a laptop. So, I wanted something that was solidly built and would last.
2) I wanted a desk with an adjustable height. It’s all about ergonomics, baby! If the desk is too high or too low, it’ll kill my wrists. I’d rather not get carpal tunnel syndrome, thank you very much.
3) I wanted a treadmill that could go at a slow pace for hours. Many treadmills are designed for short bursts of running or walking quickly. If you use them for hours on end, you’ll prematurely burn out the motor. This LifeSpan treadmill can go up to 6 hours a day without damaging the motor.
4) I wanted a treadmill that wouldn’t break on me and came with a warranty. One of my friends built her own treadmill desk after buying a relatively inexpensive used treadmill on Craigslist. It broke within a month!
My treadmill desk will arrive tomorrow. I promise that I’ll write a review of it after I’ve used it for a couple of months!
(top photo: Victor1558; sitting infographic: http://www.medicalbillingandcoding.org/)