By Tom Rath
In a recent interview, I mentioned that I wrote my latest book, Eat Move Sleep, while walking on a treadmill. I also dedicate a full section to this topic in Chapter 3 of Eat Move Sleep (link to excerpt) where I detail how walking while writing gave me more energy and increased my writing production. Some people have asked for more detail about exactly how I did this, so I thought I would elaborate in a quick post. Below is a picture of my work station set-up, that I continue to use for my daily work and calls. I alternate between my treadmill and pedal desk throughout the day and highly recommend either solution, if it is practical in your home or office.
Here are a couple of additional answers to your questions:
Q: What type of treadmill do you use?
My home office treadmill desk is a handmade solution. I mounted a simple particle board from the hardware store to an old treadmill in my basement and placed a basic keyboard and trackpads on both sides. However, it is very similar to these LifeSpan models that I have tried (and friends have recommended) on Amazon.
Q: Do you walk all the time or alternate with sitting?
When I am on a phone call and need to ensure there is no background noise from a motorized treadmill, I use a manual cycling station, which makes virtually no noise. I used to sit in a chair for breaks from walking, but ended up stuck there and not moving for hours. So I literally kicked my chair out of my office. The “pedal desk” I use is made by FitDesk, costs $250, and comes with a place to rest your wrists and laptop. I modified this to go under a full-size standing desk (that I was using before I decided to try walking).
Q: How far do you walk on days when you work on your treadmill?
On days when I work in my home office with this setup, I usually take at least 20,000 steps (approx. 10 miles) and have hit 30-40,000 steps on good days. This compares to my struggling to reach 10,000 steps on days when I travel, have in-person meetings, etc. As I mention in the book, it also increases my writing production, which I measure by tracking my words per day in a spreadsheet.
Q: What device do you use to track your steps?
In order to track how many steps I take per day, I have tried at least 10-15 devices ranging from $5 pedometers to more advanced monitoring that syncs with my smartphone, checks my heart rate, and so on. While there are countless devices in this nascent market, the two largest players are Fitbit and Jawbone. I have been using the Fitbit for at least four years and highly recommend it.
Q: Is moving while you work practical in a traditional workplace?
I understand specialized walking and standing desks are not practical in many workplaces, but neither are the soaring healthcare costs produced by sitting for ten hours a day. If you can’t convince your employer to spend money on a standing desk, despite the fact it could improve your productivity, improvise to move more during your workday. Take more frequent breaks, have walking meetings, put your laptop on a stack of books, walk around when you are on conference calls, etc. See if you can at least get to 10,000 steps before they day ends.
To read more about options for moving and devices for tracking, see the December Newsletter on Gifts for Health.
Now my question for you: What works best to keep you moving during your workday?
Please share and discuss below so we can all learn more.