We all spend too much time sitting on our hind assets. The end result is not only cosmetically unattractive; it leads to heart disease and increased infirmity with age. I know I need to exercise more. A couple of months ago, I got fed up and decided to see if I could find something that would allow me to work and exercise at the same time. Initially, I was trying to find a combination exercise bicycle-desk.
My Search for the Healthy Desk
I quickly found that others were searching as well, but the responses were less than inviting. I could put a pedal toy under a desk (which I probably would use once) or sit on a rubber ball and look like an idiot, something I'm just not willing to do.
Then I thought, what about a treadmill? It turns out a doctor at the Mayo Clinic had done a report on this, and a number of folks have crafted their own treadmill desks (some of which are kind of amazing), reporting good results. But I really didn't want to build my own and most treadmills would not only need substantial modification, going by what I read, they are also too fast and too noisy for this purpose.
It turned out Steelcase made one, the Walkstation, that, at $4,000 to $6,000, is far from cheap but is designed to be quiet and slow. I felt it was well worth the money to save my life. This is the second time, by the way, that I've bought a desk in this range. The last time was to address a tendinitis/carpal tunnel problem, and the Poetic Technologies Spirit Desk, which I still use, saved my hands.
Each Walkstation is built to your specifications, and it takes about six weeks from order to delivery. I took delivery last Friday and have been using the desk on and off. I've walked between 20 and 39 miles so far using the desk.
Impression of the Walkstation
I got used to walking and working relatively quickly, though I find I forget it entirely when I'm gaming and can go the longest at that time (up to five hours without a break). You do pay a price initially in that if you overdo it, which I clearly did at first, you will have trouble walking for a number of hours. Stretching becomes very important as well because walking for hours can really tighten up your calves.
The desk motors up and down for height, and it took a bit to get it just the way I wanted it but this was very easy and I was immediately hooked.
I seem to be sleeping better and I also feel more healthy. Of course, I'm not entirely sure that isn't because the ache in my legs is blanking out everything else. I'd make one change to the design of the product: Move the control panel for the treadmill. It is actually easier to maintain pace if you push against the desk, but in the current configuration this puts your belly against the control panel, which isn't that sturdy and isn't very comfortable.
The other thing is, if you want to have it accurately report how many calories you have burned, you have to put in your weight, but it always defaults to 150 pounds. This is kind of annoying. It would be great if it remembered at least two weights or, even better, incorporated a scale (it is an expensive desk, after all). That way, it could also automatically track weight loss.
Netting It out: It Works
There is no doubt this desk is causing me to exercise substantially more than I was. It may actually save my life. Heart disease runs in my family and I'm already on special medication for that. More importantly, being in shape can substantially add to the quality of your later life and keep you from injury throughout most of it.
I have little doubt that eventually we'll see more affordable versions of this product. Until then, the Steelcase Walkstation is the only game in town and one of the few ways to work and computer game while getting fit. I'm thinking a lot of kids should be using something like this. I certainly will be from now on.