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.
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.