January 10, 2011, 1:06 PM — Just because you have a desk job doesn't mean you need to watch your waistline grow year after year. If you can walk, you can use a treadmill desk. It's a surefire way to burn extra calories and feel healthier while you get your work done.
For two years, I stood while I worked. I left the desk chair behind because I feared the negative health effects of sitting at my desk for eight or more hours each day. After all that standing, though, I was ready to take the next step--literally. I now walk between eight and nine miles while I work, burning thousands of calories in the process. Here's how you can do it, too:
My single biggest delay in upgrading to the treadmill desk wasn't fear of walking that much or losing my balance; rather, it was the significant financial investment involved. I already had a desk at standing height, so I completed my setup with the TreadDesk, which set me back $800. (The TreadDesk includes a slim treadmill that fits under a desk and detachable controls.)
If you already have a treadmill and just need a desk, you will likely find that your treadmill's handlebars get in the way. Consider options like the $479 TrekDesk Treadmill Desk if they'll fit your setup.
If you need both a stationary or adjustable-height standing desk and a treadmill, prepare to spend north of $2,000 to get up and running (or walking). Some companies, such as Steelcase, sell the complete package--treadmill and desk. Other companies to check out include Signature.
Try standing first
I wouldn't advise anyone go from a sitting setup straight to a walking setup. Before you shell out the money for any serious equipment, I think it's wise to spend some time standing first. That way you'll get accustomed to leaving the chair behind and typing in a standing position.
To create my original makeshift standing desk, I used a regular-height desk with Ikea shelf-toppers and small tables atop it. It's important to get your screen(s) at eye level, and your keyboard and mouse at a comfortable height. Standing will initially feel odd. But you'll quickly learn important tricks like wearing good shoes and socks and taking occasional sitting breaks.