How to Hack a Walking Desk


Posted 2 years ago in Small Business Tips
by Katie Pryal

You’ve probably already heard about the benefits of a walking desk, also called a treadmill desk. These benefits include not only increased health, but also increased brain function, which can yield increased productivity.

Recently, I decided I was ready to make the jump from a sitting desk to a walking desk. Sure, I was thinking somewhat about the benefits of increased brain function, but mostly I wanted to beat my friends in our daily fitness tracker step count. (They had walking desks. I didn’t. I was losing badly.)

But when I looked online to see how much walking desks cost, I was bowled over by the prices: $2000 at the low end, and on up to $4500 and more. I couldn’t find anything on the used market in my area, and I didn’t have that kind of money to spend.

I just knew there had to be a better way.

There was.

Step 1: Purchase a treadmill

A treadmill is one of those things that a person often buys with good intentions—and then rarely uses. Perhaps she or he intends to run a 10k race, then trains for the race, and then after the race is over, the treadmill becomes a $2500 laundry drying rack. In other words, these good intentions are often paired with poor follow-through.

I was counting on this kind of poor follow-through when I headed over to a used sporting goods store here in my town. After doing my research online in advance, I had this conversation with the salesperson:

“I would like to buy a used treadmill,” I said.

“Which treadmill?” he said.

“Your nicest, newest treadmill.”

“Are you sure.”

“I’m sure.”

“Are you sure?” he said, pointing to a row of treadmills. “These over here are less expensive.”

“I’m sure.”

“Are you sure?”

It took a while to convince him I was sure. I definitely wanted to buy the most expensive, fanciest, newest, and most well-made used treadmill they had in stock.

It cost $300.

Its MSRP, when I pulled up the model on my phone, was $3000. I’m a huge fan of the 90% discount.

Also important was the design of the treadmill. The treadmill, like many other high-end treadmills, had thick bars that extended back from the control panel in a horizontal fashion, bars you can grab for balance when you are running. Since I would not be running, I could afford to give up twelve inches of these bars for desk space. (Plus, I would be able to grab the desk for balance if I needed to.)

Step 2: Build the desk surfaces

I headed to the hardware and lumber store.

I purchased two, pre-finished closet shelf boards. Each board was 48” in length, 1” in thickness, and 12” in width. They cost about ten dollars each. I also bought some small L-brackets, screws, and small clamps. Total expense: Less than $30.

Board A would be the main desk surface, just as it was. Board B would serve two purposes. Using my miter saw, I cut down Board B and made cleats to hold Board A on the horizontal arms of the treadmill. When that work was done, I had a 48” x 12” board lying across the treadmill’s arms, creating the main workspace. This desk surface was held firmly in place by cleats and L-brackets.

Then I used the rest of Board B and the rest of the L-brackets to build a box to set on top of Board A. The box was exactly the right height for me to work on my laptop when I set it on top of Board A. The box was about 8” tall on the sides, and about 24” wide. (Note: I’m 5’11” tall.) I clamped that box to the top of the middle of Board A.

I put my laptop on top of the box, my work supplies under it (inside the box) and to the side (on Board A), and got to work-and-walking.

Step 3: Use the desk

You’ll find some naysayers who swear you should never work regularly on a laptop—whether at a sitting desk or on a treadmill desk. (These people must not spend much time in coffee shops.) I like working at my laptop. But if you, personally, need to use an external keyboard for your ergonomic happiness, you should build a two-tier system that works for you.

Now that I have my treadmill desk, whenever I have a spare 20 minutes, I walk instead of sitting on the couch. It’s also a great place to take phone calls. With a treadmill desk, one suspects that you are upping your metabolism while listening to a conference call—and you’ll find you’re just a little less resentful of that conference call. Blame the endorphins if you’d like for the extra chill. I just like the fact that I’m finally winning the step-count contest.

Disclaimer: Please exercise caution when building and using a treadmill desk. These instructions are meant to be informative only and are not meant to take the place of your own judgment in building and using your desk.

Privacy Preference Center

      Necessary

      Advertising

      Analytics

      Other