treadmill-desk-lifespan-1620 LifeSpan

Move It and Lose It: Treadmill Desk Helps Keep off Weight

A fitness equipment company tells us why a desk job could be one of the more dangerous positions at your job if you don't stay active.

See if this sounds familiar: In your 20s, you worked up a sweat on the factory floor, found time to play rec league hoops at night, and still had enough energy to chase your real passions on the weekends. Then thirty happens, you get a promotion and indentured to a desk, tied to more responsibility and probably a family. That favorite pair of jeans was too snug two years ago, and looking down at the bathroom scale is more depressing than seeing how old your favorite rock band got.

Well there’s only one thing to do. Get off your ass. Those are science’s words, not mine. A Mayo Clinic study finds that replacing sitting at a computer with walking on a treadmill for two to three hours a day can help you lose up to 40 to 60 lb/year. You still have a job to do, so the best way to achieve this weight loss, and gain in energy, is to get a treadmill desk.

They’re like regular treadmills, but they have a desk top that for your laptop or PC. They also electrically adjust to the optimal ergonomic height for your keyboard. Other differences include noise level, which is quieter as to not disrupt other office jockeys, and a much lower top speed, because typing becomes increasingly more difficult the faster you go.

Miami University study found that “typing performance while walking [at 1.4 mph] was not different than seated typing performance.”



Since 2008, the Utah-based LifeSpan has been manufacturing these treadmills, along with several other activity tools, specifically for the office. We asked company president Peter Schenk to fill us in on LifeSpan’s TR1200-DT7 treadmill desk, and why walking while working is more than a fad.

NED: What was the perception of fitness when Lifespan got into “exercise on the job” movement?

Schenk: Exercise was something you did before or after work. The American Heart Association suggested 30 minutes a day, 3-5 days a week at moderate intensity, and that was all you needed to do to stay healthy. Then all of a sudden, the sedentary research said look, if you’re sitting all day and then you get your 30 minutes, it’s just not enough. And that’s really what triggered us to find options for the workplace: so that people could get activity throughout the day.

NED: What are some of the key features?

Schenk: Safety is a big aspect. When you get off treadmill and walk away it shuts off. We also focus on space-saving, so it’s low to the ground with a 4.6-in. step up height and the desktop is 38 in. wide, with a 48-in. option. The height adjustment is 40 to 53 in.  It’s also “whisper quiet.” Because the max speed is 4 mph, we changed the gear ratio, so  the motor has a lot more power at lower speeds. That’s why you don’t hear that whining you get out of a motor that’s straining to stay at 1.5 mph.

We also released a free app called Active Trac that integrates with Google Fit and Apple Health and synchs via blue tooth to the treadmill to track calories burned and count steps.

NED: How much do you use yours?

Schenk: Anytime I’m talking to someone, doing a Skype or Go To meeting, all my emails I do on it. If I’m doing a spreadsheet or something with delicate mouse work, I’m probably stopping the treadmill and either standing or sitting down to do it. I use it 2 to 3 hours a day, or about 3 to 4 mph a day.  I’ve found  1.6 mph is my top speed before my typing degrades. Some people  can type at 2.2 mph.

The first thing we get asked is how can you type and walk at the same time. We recommend to break down work your day, and find aspects of job that lend themselves to moving and walking, such as participating in webinars.

Everybody has an opportunity, whatever their daily workload is, to include walking a good portion of that.

Why do you think this is an important tool at work, especially at the management level?

Schenk: We become more sedentary as we get promoted. On top of that we're less active than we were in our 20s. This is the most important time to keep yourself active and healthy.


NED: What is the next trend in working out at work?

Schenk: We recognize tread mill desks have some limitations, such as size and power, needing to plug  into wall. We have one product close to release, an unplugged pedaling devices that can be used by individuals or used collaboratively.It's called the Duo, a round desk with two peddling stations.

The workspace is evolving. There are more huddled spaces, so we're coming up with devices that will be really be effective in layouts with smaller, common areas.

The soon-to-be released LifeSpan Duo will allow two people to hold a meeting and burn calories at the same time.
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