Thursday, December 29, 2011

Treadmill Desk Update

I'm coming up on the end of my second week using my treadmill desk, albeit two relatively quiet work weeks thanks to the holidays. I haven't put together the plans yet for those who might be interested in building a similar one, but the desk does seem to be holding up well. It's still very sturdy and has been working great for me.

After a really great first day where I put in over nine miles, my daily averages have backed off a bit to more in the 6-7 mile range and I'm averaging about 800 calories a day burned according to the treadmill. It seems that 1.6 MPH is my sweet spot for being able to type and mouse, though I sometimes go a little slower if I'm tired. I also usually start the morning at about 1.3 MPH, but after about 15 minutes, I'm usually up to 1.6.

I'm not finding it difficult to work for the most part. In fact, often I feel more alert and able to deal with complex problems. However, late in the day, I often feel just the opposite. I start to get fatigued, and when I do, then I often find that a difficult problem requires me to go over to my sitting desk or else needs to be pushed off until the next morning when I'm fresh. I suspect that this problem will go away as I continue to get used to it and am able to walk longer.

I currently spend about 4 hours walking, another 1-2 standing at my new desk, and the rest of my workday right now is at my old sitting desk. My goal is to get up to at least 8 hours of walking, but I'm really happy with this so far. It's not hard to do. There's no motivation for me to find. It's just part of my routine. When I go to my office, I start the treadmill. Easy-peazy.

I'm walking slow enough that I'm not experiencing much in the way of muscle soreness. A tiny bit in my calf last week, but none this week. There are some other problems that go along with the treadmill desk, however. First and foremost, my feet start to hurt something fierce by the end of the day. This week was better than last, and I suspect in a few weeks it will be a non-issue. A lot of it, admittedly, was poor shoe choice. More on that later.

Another problem with spending this amount of time moving is the potential for chafing and rashes. It goes away relatively quickly if you're smart enough to wear appropriate clothing, which I wasn't at first. If you experience chafing, here's two words to remember: coconut oil. Yep, the kind you buy for cooking. It's a solid at room temperature, but will turn into liquid from the heat of your hands. It's magic for irritated skin and it's also a lubricant. It's better than any lotion or salve I've ever tried.

I close my office door and open the window while I'm working, even though it's winter and I wear shorts and a t-shirt while working. Even at that, I'm a little warm, but I'm a warm person in general, always have been. I haven't broken out my winter jacket yet this year, so your experience might be different. Nobody I've talked to has mentioned being this warm, so it might just be me.

This one's important. Get some good walking shoes. Don't wear your existing sneakers or shoes, or worse, don't be stupid and go barefoot or wear sandals, crocs or whatever shoes happen to be closest to you. Good shoes, designed for walking, fitted by somebody who knows WTF they are doing. Four or more hours of walking is a lot of steps you're taking each day. Your feet will thank you.

So, the big question people probably want to know is: Have I lost weight?

It's really too early to tell. The scale says I've lost between two and four pounds, but honestly, my weight can fluctuate more than that just from water weight over the course of a single day. I might have lost nothing, or I might have lost more than that. I need more data points before I can form any conclusions. But, I suspect I have lost some. Even with a holiday party last weekend, I've been eating less than normal. I'm not sure if it's psychological or physiological, but I'm hungry less, and when I do eat, I'm tending to eat less and to eat healthier. I also haven't been tempted by my personal demon, the midnight snack. Well, more like the 2:30am-up-late-coding snack. Part of that may simply be that I'm too tired to work until 2:30am these days, though.

Overall, I'm declaring the experiment a success already. I'm able to work just as well walking as I am sitting except when I get fatigued, I'm burning calories while I work, and am just generally feeling better than I have in a long time.

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