Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Treadmill desk as a software developer

I got a treadmill desk and will be writing my review from the perspective of a software developer who works from

All metrics are tracked from fitbit, and just as a baseline, I average about 10K steps a day without the treadmill, but it has taken some dedicated effort.

Day 1(Thurs)
Based on the corner of the office that I put this in, I noticed that my overhead ceiling fan was less effective. I didn't break a sweat on the treadmill, I just needed to move some floor based fans to me. (FYI all of the computer equipment in my office gets warm, and instead of air conditioning the whole house, I use several fans in my office. )
I found myself looking forward to meetings, especially those that I wasn't an active participant, so I could up my speed to around 3 mph. If I'm an active participant I found that 2 was about right for me.
The treadmill is super quiet and my colleagues couldn't hear any background noise coming from my end of the call. Personally though, due to my own cognitive processing inability to separate noises, I found that I needed to move to loud speakers / headphones so I could hear better. But as I said, even though my hearing is fine, I know that I'm not able to separate sounds, so the treadmill, fans, and meeting was slightly indistinguishable for me.
I didn't get bored as much, so I found myself talking less breaks. I also noticed that when I did feel like taking a break, there was a "stop" action. Literally pressing pause on the treadmill, was a more commitment to the break, then my usual get up to go to the bathroom or grab a snack from the kitchen. 23K steps - a little more than double my average up to that point

Day 2 (Fri)
Okay, I was a little stiff today. Clearly I pushed myself too hard. Today my pace was more around 1.5 for the whole day. I found myself inverting my day. Previously my breaks were to get up and walk around. I'd go to the farthest bathroom in the house, or to walk around and pace while eating my lunch to get more steps in. Today I found myself not doing those things. I even took a couple of breaks just to go sit on the couch for a couple of minutes. Then around 2pm. I couldn't walk anymore. I moved the laptop back to my desk and sat for about an hour or so. That night I had to stretch.

Stretching isn't a bad thing, it means that I'm actually doing something with my muscles. 22K steps, which is still more than I was planning. I was hoping to only get to around 18K today.

Thankfully a weekend is coming up, so I can start fresh again on Monday.

Day 3 (Mon)
Spent all day at 1.5 MPH. Still needed a significant sitting break around 2 pm. I've been drinking alot more water, because I also realized that I wasn't drinking enough the other days. It is really easy to overdo it, especially if you hit flow for a couple of hours. One tricky bug and 4 hours later I've walked nearly 6 miles. Unfortunately I hit 30K steps today. That is my all time high. I stretched a lot, but still woke up sore.

Day 4
Today I'm going to sit through the morning, and then start walking for my noon meeting. I only walked on the treadmill for 2 hours today, but since it was mostly a non-participatory meeting, I still managed to eek out 20K. In addition to stretching I had to use my wife's foot massager.

Day 5
So here is my new plan: I'll start the day sitting, then probably just after lunch I'll start on the treadmill. I'll put in an hour or two, then move the laptop to the desk. I'll leave the laptop unplugged and when I run low on battery, finish out the rest of the day on the treadmill. That should get me around 20K steps.

Day 6:
Throwing in some tech geekery. Given that I'm walking for a couple of hours and sitting for a couple of hours; I've got two separate external monitors that I'm hooking up to. The one on the treadmill is 25" and the one at the desk is a measly 17". It was very annoying that whenever I switched, I lost the locations of my windows. Be on the lookout for another blogpost regarding Slate for managing my Mac windows state across multiple monitor configurations. I just started with it today, and it is awesome, but will need to dive in more to be able to write up the post.

Week 1: Metrics
19.5K step average
62 Miles

Day etc.
I'll do a followup post in a couple weeks, after a month or so of use. But as of today, I'm still following the sit in the morning, walk in the afternoon approach. This works well for me, that way I'm walking when I'm most awake / alert. I do need to stretch every night, which is not a bad thing. I'm feeling really good and haven't noticed a decline in productivity - actually I feel more focused when I'm walking. I have discovered that if I'm in the middle of something, and don't want to shift spaces from the treadmill to the desk, I'll sometimes just stand at the treadmill for a break. That works better than I expected. It is quiet enough to use at night with the kids asleep in the next room, but the kids informed me as they were going to sleep, that if I had my speed too high, that my steps were too loud (me walking, not the machine). I had one co-worker that could hear the treadmill  (my steps) when I wasn't on the headset, but just on the computer, but when pushed, she said she really had to strain to hear it and it was very faint.