Business

How I walked 18.5 miles in a single day without losing productivity at my computer

Image Credit: Lifespan

It’s possible to make a desk job the best way to become fit. Traditionally, computer-chained jobs have been responsible for an epidemic in sitting-related disorders, which afflict the tech industry perhaps worse than any other. Even avid gym goers can’t counteract many of the illnesses caused by sitting for extended periods of time.

Many readers may have heard about standing desks attached to a treadmill (“walking desks”) that have helped desk job workers stem the worst aspects of sitting all day.

Studies reveal that workplaces with a walking desk see employees get up walking around an hour more a day. That is, they use the walking desk for a brief period of physically active productivity.

These studies are far too pessimistic. We have radically underestimated just how fit it’s possible to become thanks to walking desks.

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Yesterday, I blew away my record for miles walked at a computer in a single day. I walked 18.5 miles, burned an estimated 3,500 calories, and didn’t lose an ounce of productivity. At max speeds of 2.5 miles per hour, I now burn more calories while working at a computer than I do when I’m running errands.

That is, working at my computer is one of the most exercise-intensive parts of my day.

Doesn’t walking make it hard to concentrate?

A few studies show that walking desks actually increase cognitive ability. One found that doctors were 10 percent more accurate at diagnosing problems, while another found that employer satisfaction went up 10 percent for those who used an available treadmill desk at the office.

Walking desks take a while to get used to. In the beginning, I could only muster walking about 90 minutes a day. Now, I’ve completely reversed my metrics and try to sit less than 90 a day. I learned that I could concentrate at higher speeds if I upped my max speeds. I used to walk at 0.8 MPH.

After pushing myself to go faster, I steadily worked my way up to 1.0 mph, then 1.2 mph, 1.5 mph, and eventually 2.5 mph.

In fact, I up my max speed while I feel I’m entering a cognitive fog. The added sweating helps push me through the afternoons when I’m normally more sleepy.

As with all exercise, it’s important to have good form and consult a doctor beforehand. For me, I get mild knee pain, so I perform myofascial release with a foam roller on my knees and calves in order keep my body limber. Kelly Starrett over at Mobility WOD is my go-to source for mobility exercise.

I want to stay healthy and productive for the rest of my life. I don’t have to choose been health and productivity and neither do you.

*Note: I use the Misfit Shine, strapped to my pants, to calculate miles walked. All the wrist-based health trackers I’ve tried can’t accurate count steps when the hands are placed at a keyboard.


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27 comments
Mike Drips
Mike Drips

18.5 miles of walking is not anywhere near 3500 calories. That is closer to 900 calories or less.

Annelise Joseph
Annelise Joseph

Hi AnnMarie, were you really able to type as you walk on there? I can barely type on my phone and my iPad is out of the question. I would really like some insight on your use of the machine.

Robyn Triegaardt
Robyn Triegaardt

I TOLD YOU!!!! Think about this desk in combination with Jonnies Corner... #shredded

Vincenzo Belpiede
Vincenzo Belpiede

which model did you use? I totally buy it...from using a bit at a friend's office I felt immediately better

James Edward
James Edward

We have a few of these at fujitsu, now I just need to use it.

James Lowe
James Lowe

It's not nearly as impressive as 18.5, but I'm 4 miles in on my treadmill desk so far today while working. The boost in energy, productivity and focus are unreal every day that I use it. I'll never be without one again!

Kristina Forbes
Kristina Forbes

This is garbage!!!  Any doctor will tell you that this will ruin your eyes. Walking and reading?!?!  Who comes up with this nonsense?!
And who "covers" this?

Deveedutta Maharana
Deveedutta Maharana

@pascal - You got it right. Saw today Linus Torvalds desk & he says he can barely move mouse properly above 1 miles/hr on that tread mill.

Max Jacobi
Max Jacobi

Seriously? Walking 8 hours with stretched hands like zombie? And why can't gym goers counteract illnesses? I'm very curious because I sit 10 hours every day and go to gym in hope I can neutralize that.

Stuart Goodman
Stuart Goodman

You're kidding if you think it's easy to concentrate on a screen whilst walking! But seriously, we are legit getting stand up desks when we move office at Epping

AnnMarie Michaels
AnnMarie Michaels

Love my treadmill desk! I bought one last year and lost 40 pounds in 6 months.

Pascal Muller
Pascal Muller

Yeah I don't mean dropping it all the way below your basic metabolic rate... I just don't think that an eight hour long slow walk will get people the toned body they are looking for. Not without changing towards healthy eating habits.

Andrés David A
Andrés David A

How many lawsuits a month the treadmill company gets by people who end up hitting their teeth against the desk while trying to stay fit?

Pascal Muller
Pascal Muller

You could also adjust your caloric intake to your sedentary lifestyle as opposed to buying and eating food you don't need only to show the people around you how clueless you are by having to burn off the caloric surplus later with an expensive device that otherwise would have been obsolete.

Kristina Forbes
Kristina Forbes

WOW!!! What does your eye doctor think about you walking and reading 8 hours a day? :-)

N Pfeifer
N Pfeifer

I would never use a treadmill desk in a business casual/formal environment, but a standing desk instead.

N Pfeifer
N Pfeifer

If you're actively trying to lose weight, yes, you absolutely need to change your diet as that comprises the vast majority of weight loss. However, having a treadmill desk not only makes you stronger, but opens new avenues to other forms of exercise - a gateway drug, if you will. If you're walking 18 miles a day, it's not going to be long before you're gonna need to cook off some energy at home through some other means. A treadmill desk can only benefit people.