The Desk That Could Save Your Life

Rob Enderle

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.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jul 18, 2008 9:17 AM walk and work walk and work  says:
Actually there are a lot cheaper alternatives already out and the cheapest I have found is the net runner from http://www.thenetrunner.com for $99. Works with your laptop and existing treadmill and is portable. Reply
Jul 18, 2008 4:51 PM Ludovic Ludovic  says:
It's a good idea... which deserves to be improved:- with some speech-to-text command interface (must be hard to type while walking?)- the treadmill should generate power, which in turn should be fed into a smart-(power)grid,- this could reduce our dependency on oil and be completely renewable- and while we're at it, we should get discounts on our medical bills (in a democracy) or individuals should be force to pedal to keep fit and generate electricity (that model might work better in some far East countries?)- of course, in today's Web 2.0 world, your blog should indicate how many miles you've ran that week... Reply
Jul 18, 2008 6:24 PM jv jv  says:
Why did yo not publish a photograph of yourself using this wonderful treadmill desk? I would have been really interested to have seen your reality, rather than the manufacturer's version of reality.Cool piece though. jv Reply
Jul 18, 2008 6:44 PM Joyce Joyce  says:
I know oe of the reasons I don't workout/use my treadmill as much as I would like is in part due to mentally I'm thinking of all the other things I could be doing and all the work I could get done. I never really thought about doing or getting something like this. In addition to maybe saving your life, you are saving others. :) Excellent post! Kudos... Reply
Jul 24, 2008 12:33 PM Robert Everett Robert Everett  says:
A friend of mine has a creation he is selling on line which would fall under this topic. It operates by asigning a keyboard key to a switch that is attached to a belt. So every time to need to hit that key you would have to do a "crunch". So .. assign the enter key to the switch for a light "ab" workout or assign it to the space bar for a full out attack to your flabby gut!! Check it outhttp://abgamer.com/ Reply
Jul 24, 2008 3:02 PM Richard Carpenter Richard Carpenter  says:
I'm the owner and developer of all of the Abgamer line of products. Thanks for the props Robert. Abgamer definitely fits into this category but due to a lack of funding our ideas are just that. If you or someone you know would like to confer with me on the subject please don't hesitate dropping me a line at rcarpenter3(at)comcast.net or writing me at Richard Carpenter3 Antique ln SEAlbuquerque NM 87123 Reply
Jul 28, 2008 7:48 PM Ken Ken  says:
There's at least one other product that provide much of what the Walkstation does at a lower price. The TreadDesk setup uses a separate, handleless treadmill with a similar desk that raises or lowers at the push of a button. The other interesting thing with it is that you can get flooring to allow you to use a chair at the same desk, slide it off to the side and then use the treadmill. Reply
Jul 29, 2008 1:40 PM Rob Enderle Rob Enderle  says:
Interesting product. The TreadDesk can be found here: http://www.treaddesk.com/ Reply
Aug 12, 2008 5:02 PM Rick Rick  says:
These treadmill desks can help you regain your health. The best I have seen is at www.trekdesk.com and it is called the TrekDesk. Reply

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