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Treadmill desks have been around for over a decade, and still hold allure for the fitness-minded who want to combine work with more consistent movement throughout the day. And while the workstation concept has endured over the years, there are some important considerations to keep in mind when creating an active workstyle around the treadmill desk, whether as your primary desk or just once in a while during your work day. Here are five simple steps to help you go “the extra mile” at work, safely:

1. Exercise caution at all times. To avoid possible injury, if using a computer at a treadmill, set up your computer first before pushing the “start” button. If this is your first time walking on a treadmill, familiarize yourself with it by reading the instruction manual first. Remember, this is a moving floor so keep your wits about you at all times. Check beforehand to see if there’s a contact person in case the treadmill malfunctions. Be prepared in case of a power outage or emergency drill.

2. Choose a walking speed. Start slow at around 1 to 1.5 miles per hour then later ratchet it up to a speed that’s right for your body. Note: it would be difficult to work while walking at a speed over 2 miles per hour, and you should never set the speed at over 3 miles per hour. You’ll want to vary the speed, depending on the type of work you’re doing: While listening to a teleseminar, you could mute your phone and walk at a vigorous speed. When reviewing a proposal, you’d probably want to slow down so it’s easier to concentrate.

3. Break up walk time with rest time. Walk for about 15 minutes, then take a short break (get off the platform and stretch), before continuing for another 15 minutes. Even if you’d like to walk for longer segments, resist the temptation to overdo and possibly injure yourself. If using a laptop, consider undocking periodically and working elsewhere at a seated workstation. Keep in mind that standing all day is not healthy. Switching between seated and standing positions is ideal.

4. Be respectful of co-workers. While walking on a treadmill, you will be towering over everyone, and your voice will carry differently when on the phone. The treadmill may be noisy — the faster you walk, the louder it is. In addition to sounds from the machine, your footfalls also make noise. Show consideration for those around you by being aware of your activity.

5. Create a ramp up plan. Slowly acclimate yourself to standing and walking more than you have been doing — the important thing is to switch things up. If this is your primary workstation, it may take some time to develop a routine that’s healthful and productive. If you’re using a “time-share” treadmill, schedule in times to walk and work in the office so when that weekly conference call rolls around you’ve got a reservation.

Stay tuned for more posts about treadmill workstyles, including tips for advanced and full-time treadmill users committed to reducing sedentary time in the office.


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