Writer transforms her office with a treadmill desk

This week freelance writer and guest blogger Renata Harper reflects on her first week of working at a treadmill desk. 

Jung once said that if we do not deal with our problems internally, we will meet them externally as fate. It seems this is true also for the body. After three months of pushing through twinges in my shoulder blades, regular headaches and a stiffness that not even yoga could soften, my mouse finger started to look like it had Parkinson's. An RSI in your right forefinger is hardly something to complain (or boast) about however, so I consoled myself with the thought of just having to use my middle finger more often.

Then a mental fog set in.
It soon became clear: I had reached an impasse with both my laptop and my desk - and as a result with my career. The feelings were gratifyingly childlike: I do not want to sit at my desk! I do not want to respond to emails or engage with social media. I will write that article by hand if I have to. (You will not earn any income! did cross my adult mind.)

I realised it wasn't just that I needed a workspace alternative; I needed a change too, some novelty in my working life to intrigue my brain and (re)spark my creativity. 

I did have some concerns though. 

It's an investment after all. And unlike a thigh master, you can't chuck a treadmill desk in the cupboard with the idea that you'll definitely use it one day. I was also worried my performance - and my typing in particular - would be affected as I adjusted to the desk. And would I get distracted by what my bottom half (alas, not my better half) was doing? 

one-year study by researchers at the University of Minnesota (published in PLOS ONE in February 2014) found that productivity 'increased substantially' after workers had adjusted to the desk, a conclusion that reassured me somewhat. 

The same study also suggests that walking while working may complement certain tasks (like complex cognitive assignments), but hinder others (like detailed, precise work). It’s early days and I'm curious to see how I perform in different areas of my work: brainstorming vs. writing vs. editing; emailing vs. making calls; conducting interviews vs. researching online.

Easy does it...

What I can tell you is that I'm feeling infinitely more cheerful and energised, the latter, I suspect, because my body is not crunched up all day. As someone prone to cabin fever, I'm also really enjoying switching between my treadmill desk and my regular desk.

I've started out slowly, at 1 km/hr, and the effect is therapeutic... almost meditative. It's even a little addictive. I've had to remind myself to ease into it (two hours a day feels good for now), because what would be the point of overdoing things again?

Renata Harper (Twitter: @theglobalwriter) aka The Global Writer is a Cape Town based writer and editor with a passion for wellness and conservation. Renata is walking and working on the Lifespan TR1200-DT5 treadmill combined with a standard height-adjustable desk. (And yes, this was written at her new treadmill desk.)

Tell us about your journey on a treadmill, bike or standing desk! Email us

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