Monday, March 28, 2011

Treadmill desks: can you really exercise and write at the same time?

Suddenly I'm reading lots about treadmill desks (or vertical workstations), which allow you to write and exercise at the same time (see selected articles below*). This seemed like the perfect solution for me since exercise/writing is often an either/or choice with me and sitting in one spot for several hours gives me lower back pain.

But the smallish bedrooms of my 1960s split-level house aren't big enough to accommodate a 6'-long treadmill (unless I want to put a mattress on top of it at night). And I don't want a treadmill in the middle of my living room.

The obvious solution was to put my laptop or notebook on a higher shelf and to simply walk in place. The results? Illegible handwritten prose. A lack of control at my laptop, even after repeated tries. And the loss of the meditative state I like to be in while composing. Perhaps I could type while walking in place if all I was doing was typing.

So it looks like I am not going to join the growing number of "treadheads."

However, I've come up with a different solution that is working for me, and which cost me only the $29 for a good pedometer. I've started to walk or jog in place while doing other things, in an effort to get up to 6,000 steps a day even when I'm working inside all day. Washing my hands and brushing my teeth? 300 steps. Loading the dryer? 500 steps.

It feels a little silly to jog in place when I'm in the bathroom, but like Vegas, I figure whatever goes on in the bathroom stays in the bathroom. Sillier to jog downstairs to the laundry room, or to march in place while cooking. Yet the pedometer is an antidote to embarrassment; it keeps me moving.

It also helps that I read recently that William Shatner runs in place for 30 minutes every morning (in addition to swimming and other types of exercise). The man looks pretty dang good for 80.

* Here are some recent articles/blog posts on treadmill writing:

Next stop: MEGA Treadmill Desk

Pound the Keys and Drop the Pounds (includes a funny clip from Woody Allen's "Bananas" on the prototype exercise desk—the pic above is a still from it)

The Amazing Treadmill Desk (includes a "Good Morning America" clip on office workers on treadmills)