Zee Spencer

Walking Desks - A Year in Review

For the past year or so, I've been doing most of my computing at a walking desk. When I tell people this, they immediately ask "But how?!" or confidently declare "I wouldn't be able to walk while working!"

While I was a bit skeptical at first, I find a walking desk fits quite nicely into my work habits. I start the day with a mile or so walk, followed by sitting and/or standing until lunch. After lunch I sit for a while, then switch to walking. On a good day, I walk about eight miles. On average, I tend to walk two to four miles a day.

How Fast Do You Walk?

While working, I've found I walk between 1.4 and 1.8 miles per hour. Any slower or faster and I have to think too much about walking. While gaming, I can go up to 2.2 miles per hour without my click accuracy going down significantly.

What Does Walking Do For You?

When I am at a high energy level, I've found that walking helps me increase my focus. The part of my brain that wants to be distracted by email, chat or twitter has something to focus on, putting one foot in front of the other!

When already fatigued, however, walking tends to fatigue me quicker. I switch between walking and standing frequently, or decide I need a quick break despite having gotten very little done or spending very little time focused on the problem at hand.

What Desk, Treadmill, and Chair Do You Have?

My setup consists of:

Standing desk with treadmill and chair
The Jarvis, TR1200, and Leap

I went with the wide desk because the company I was working for provided two 27" thunderbolt displays. A full 6' wide desk area meant I could use part of the desk for drawing or pen-and-paper note taking without feeling cramped. The desk is also on wheels, which makes it easy to roll back and forth as I switch between sitting and standing. This requires placing the treadmill in the middle of the room, however so I abandoned it in my current setup.

The Leap is, quite frankly, an amazing chair. I was walking far more when I had to choose between walking and a shitty chair. Now that I have the Leap I sit way too often. Ah well. Lesson learned! Don't buy a nice chair if you want to walk more!

The TR1200 is a reasonable treadmill. While not noisy enough to bother me while listening to music, I tend to use Shush to enable push to talk when on calls. My MacBook Air's microphone seems to pick up a gentle "whoosh whoosh" of the belt and the "slap slap" of my feet.

What Would You Change If You Did It Again?

To be honest, I'm torn on this. I really like my current setup. It works really well, and keeps me moving.

I'm kind of tempted to try out some experiments to see if I walk more if it's easier or harder to switch between sitting or working. If I find I walk more when it's harder to switch, I'd try two non-adjustable desks, one high for walking (with the nice monitor), one low for sitting.

I do wish I'd spent less on the chair. The Leap is fantastic, but my partner's Ikea Markus is quite comfortable and several hundred dollars cheaper.

There's also been some word of much cheaper adjustable height desks. Heck, even Ikea is getting in on it!


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