Excerpt from Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes
Work Faster While You Walk (From Chapter 3)
Working on this book was an experiment in itself. While I had read a fair amount of research about the downside of sitting, I read most of it … sitting down. To make things even more difficult, because I have written several books, I know it requires even longer periods sitting at my desk than normal. It’s no coincidence my back pain is always at its worst when I am writing and editing. What’s more, a recent study found a strong association between long-term sedentary work and rates of cancer.
Given the topic of this book, it was time for a new approach. I decided to build a workstation on my treadmill and set a goal of writing this entire book while walking. So I mounted my computer monitor above my treadmill and built a homemade keyboard tray across the arm rests. Because it was a low-cost solution, I figured it was worth trying even if it did not work out.
Initially, I didn’t know if it would be possible to type, look at my screen, and use a touchpad while in motion. A few days into the experiment, I determined that as long as I maintain a pace of 1.5 miles per hour, it worked. At this pace, I can read, type, and talk on the phone at least as easily as if I were seated. When I use voice dictation software for extended periods of writing, I am able to write far more words per day than I can when I’m seated.
After using this homemade walking desk for several months, I am now walking an additional 5-10 miles per day as a result. At the end of each “walk day,” as I have started to call it, my back no longer aches. I also have dramatically more energy compared with days when I am sitting in meetings, cars, or airplanes.
By the time this book was nearing publication, a wide range of commercial options had emerged for working while walking, standing, or a mix of standing and sitting. One of the most common treadmill brands now produces a model with an integrated desk for a keyboard and monitor. It gets even better reviews from users than the model without a built-in desk. A recumbent bicycle with an integrated laptop desk is even more popular. This “pedal desk” will set you back about $250, which is reasonable in the context of how much it could contribute to your health.