For the duration of my graphs, in total I’ve walked for 24220 minutes at 1mph (403.66 miles) at my treadmill desk and stood for 24220 minutes when I otherwise would have been sitting.
That’s equivalent to walking ~175 miles past the international space station and standing there for 14.94 days. What has using this exercise desk got me? Some fancy weight loss graphs! All thanks to my Confidence Power Plus Treadmillbased desk.
(Click to enlarge)
Both the standing desk and treadmill cost me $290 together. (Update: The treadmill is even cheaper since I bought one!) I used an Ikea Fredrik Desk from Craigslist and a Confidence Power Plus Electric Treadmill from Amazon. You can make your own treadmill desk too!
(In depth review of this treadmill can be found on this page.)
Instructions, motivation, and setup posts:
Treadmill Desk New User FAQ
Options for Getting a Stand Up Desk
Options for Getting a treadmill
Setting up my Confidence Power Plus Treadmill for a Standing Desk (Taking off arms and killing the speaker)
Optimizing Desk Ergonomics
Treadmill maintenance instructions
The history of the Treadmill Desk
And now, a rough analysis of the data I’ve accumulated while exercising at my desk:
Assumptions and additional details:
Walking at 1mph consumes 183 Calories/hour
Standing consumes 93 Calories/hour
Sitting consumes 83 Calories/hour
Average caloric burn rate added by walking at desk during initial weight loss time period: 143.2 Calories / Day
Average caloric burn rate added by standing at desk during initial weight loss time period:
8.96 Calories / Day
This led to a loss of 11.4 lbs over the first 163 days. This works out to a 310 Calorie / Day deficit leading to a loss of 1 lb a week. Other estimates online say that it should be a 500 Calorie / Day deficit leading to a 1lb a week loss, so perhaps I’ve got some variable that I’m not fully taking into account here. Increased metabolism from more than usual exercise? Actually burning more calories than the assumptions estimate? Increased ability and desire to take the stairs? Walking with more *umph* because I’ve become so darn good at it? All possibilities, but perhaps I’ll never know for sure.
The first 163 days of using my treadmill desk was the weight loss phase, which is what the calculations above are referring to. If you want to calculate an estimate for how much weight you can lose if you started walking at treadmill desk instead of sitting, you can fill in the values on the spreadsheet that I use. Download it here: Treadmill Desk Diary Weight Calculation.
I then went on vacation for 24 days without using my treadmill desk, or exercising at all. This is my weight gain phase. I used this period of time to calculate the rate of my increased metabolism caused by exercising at my desk. I assumed that the Caloric intake for increased metabolism would remain constant even though I stopped using the treadmill desk. (At least for a week or so after stopping). I calculated that I gained an average of 0.125 lbs/day during my vacation. This means that I was eating 437.5 Calories/day more than what was required to just maintain my pre-vacation weight. That 437.5 Calories/day must consist of the increased metabolism cost minus my exercise desk burn rate minus the additional food I ate during my vacation. It’s a little hand wavy, but if I estimate that I ate about ~250-300 Calories / day more than I normally do while on vacation (quite possibly a very conservative estimate), then my increased caloric intake due to increased metabolism caused by using the treadmill desk would be around 0 Calories/day to 35 Calories / day. This means that, within my assumptions, the use of a treadmill desk, walking at 1 mph for an average of ~2-3 hours a day, did not significantly increase my desire or requirement for additional food due to increased metabolism. This kind of makes sense. I don’t exactly get buff by walking at 1 mph, but one doesn’t necessarily have to sweat hard in order to obtain some of the health benefits from exercise. Using a treadmill desk isn’t exactly a hard work out, it’s more like a constant, low level exercise that adds up over time without you really knowing it. Walking while working probably won’t help you buff up or train for the mile relay, but it still definitely seems to give significant weight loss and health benefits.
I’ve been using my treadmill desk for ~45 days since I got back from vacation and I’ve almost reached my pre-vacation weight again. I suspect that I may be reaching a steady state weight soon at my current treadmill desk usage. I’m going to try and increase my treadmill time and break through to new lows, but I realize that at some point I’m going to stop losing weight and simply maintain a healthier weight. However, my weight while on the high school track and field team (what I consider to be the personal peak of my physical condition) was around 160 lbs. I’m also assuming that my younger self had more muscle (heavier than fat) than my current, graduate school beaten body, so I think I haven’t reached my lowest weight yet. So for now, I’ll keep trying for new lows!
For those of you who are new to the “treadmill desk” or “exercise desk” idea, here are the questions I think most newbies would have, and they are also the questions I’m attempting to answer by maintaining this blog.
Will a treadmill desk help me lose weight?
How does one set up a treadmill desk?
What are the downsides and upsides of using a treadmill desk?
How much healthier will a treadmill desk make me?
I’m attempting to answer these questions by keeping track of my health metrics as I use a treadmill desk. I also document what I did to setup my desk, the pains and issues I’ve had using a treadmill desk, and ultimately, how much healthier I have gotten by using my treadmill desk.
Am I Getting Healthier?
My Pre-Treadmill Desk Physical Results
These graphs will be updated every once in a while after I’ve accumulated data. It may be changed as I add more metrics and try to keep it from looking too busy. Blood pressure and beats per minute are averages of duplicate or triplicate measures taken first thing in the mornings. The weight is also taken at the same time every day (mornings). It’s difficult to get a good sense of how “healthy” I am without fancy equipment. But at least from personal experience, my legs feel stronger more often. It’s like that feeling you get a few days after doing a hard workout. I tend to get that feeling in my legs much more often now. Take that with a grain of salt, but the treadmill definitely isn’t hurting!
Click on graph to see larger image.
If you take the integral of this, it should equal about -11 lbs.
It’s probably still within the noise, so I can’t say it’s really helping my blood much? Maybe my beats per minute is going down at times, but it’s hard to say for sure.
Treadmill Desk Diary Summary:
Day (~-5)-0: I have my standing desk set up, but I await my treadmill. It’s a little hard to get used to standing still for hours. I get really antsy and I find myself wanting to stretch and move around after an hour or so. Once I got my treadmill, I actually preferred to be walking rather than standing. It feel more natural and I don’t really feel the soreness until after I get off.
Day 1-5: Holy hell. If you’re not used to walking for hours a day, this is going to hurt like a *****.
Day 5-10: Still painful, but I’m starting to figure out how to tweak the treadmill incline and desk position to make it more ergonomic. I’ve been noticing that walking is much less natural at a treadmill desk and a lot of effort is used to stay steady enough for typing and for not falling over.
Day 10-20: Sore feet are a real pain. I bought shoes that I keep specifically for the treadmill, but I’ve also had to adjust the heights because of the extra padding.
Day 20-30: I’ve noticed that the treadmill desk still takes quite a bit out of me when I use it for many hours a day, although I’ve managed to avoid the pains and soreness associated with bad ergonomics and an inclined/declined treadmill. I went on a hike and was surprised as to how tired I was. (Much more than usual). Perhaps it would be prudent to take a break from the treadmill before going on a hike or backpacking trip during this time frame.
Day 30-50: By this point, I think I have all of the bugs worked out. I don’t notice walking on the treadmill as much anymore in terms of being tired or sore. I can use it for 2-3 hours a day pretty easily. Much more than that though and the first thing to get sore is my lower back. Not “pain”, but sore, like it’s getting a good workout or like I’ve been standing around the mall all day. (Hopefully that will get better as I push my limits.) My weight has been very slowly going down. (I started at around 172-173 and my most recent measurement is at around 168). I didn’t exactly have a lot of weight to begin with, so I think that’s a significant amount to lose! (My high school track and field weight was around 160, so that’s my lower limit here.) Blood pressure hasn’t changed much at all, but my beats per minute has gone down to the 40′s. (I think I started in the 60′s). That may have been because of a 3 day backpacking trip at relatively high altitude though, as the BPM came down the day after I got back. But it’s been almost 2 weeks since and it has stayed in the 40′s.
Day 50-70: Weight still going down a bit, but it seems to be leveling off, which is kind of makes sense. I’m increasing my burn rate by using the treadmill, but everything else is staying more or less the same. It’s only a matter of time until I reach another steady state. No new pains, everything is going well!
Day 70-100: I noticed on my graphs that I was in a downward slope for time spent on the treadmill. I tried to up my time recently to around 2-3 hours a day from 1-2 hours a day average. My lower back is still the first thing to get sore, but like I said earlier, it’s a work out sore, not sharp pain sore. I think it’ll get stronger from this in the long run. My feet seem to have gotten tougher as I don’t complain about them nearly as much as I used to. I did notice that my pre-existing shoulder pain was starting to act up again. I suspect that I might need to pay more attention to how I’m using my mouse arm when standing. Right now, I might be reaching forward without realizing it. I think a good fix would be to attach another board on the front of the mouse side of my desk such that my whole arm can rest at desk height. It might look kind of funky with that “L” shape, but I think it would be effective. Everything else seems to be in good order though! Treadmill still going strong, and people have even started to come to my little blog to comment! yay!
Day 100-130: I’ve been plesantly surprised by my weight. I still eat quite a bit at pretty much anytime of the day (for example, I ate a donut before going to bed last night…not the best decision I’ve ever made.) But somehow, I still manage to be losing weight. My lower back definitely gets a good workout though, and it often feels sore after a long session. I think it’s getting better though, so it’s just something I need to work through. I fear that my weight may be leveling out and reaching a steady state though. I need to up my time each day so I can reach my goal of 160lbs.
Day 130-150: I tried playing a first person shooter game recently and I was fairly impressed with the accuracy I can maintain. It even feels pretty cool to be walking in real life while also walking in the game, although when “climbing” ladders in the game, I almost got disoriented and leaned myself off the treadmill. I probably wouldn’t choose a treadmill to play in any tournaments, but I found that I could play almost as well as when I’m sitting down while walking. Fun!
Day 150-190: Seems like the treadmill worked pretty well throughout even the thanksgiving holiday. I ate without reserve and I was still losing weight up until I left for vacation. During my ~4 week vacation, I sat around a lot, ate a lot of buffets, and went on a Mexican cruise. I’m surprised I only gained ~2-3 lbs after all that. I’m kind of excited to see how fast upon return to the treadmill I can lose that weight again.
Day 190- 245: Being away from my treadmill desk during the holidays made me feel very lazy… as a result, when I came back I may have overdone it a bit. I decided to up my time to try and lose that holiday weight, but I think I ended up hurting my hip a little bit. (~5-6 hours a day for ~4 days straight). I stopped using it for a couple of days and then it was back to normal. I’ve been through this cycle twice now where I’ve overdone it and had to rest, but for a while there I was worried since it started to hurt when I walked. Let this be a lesson for those overly ambitious types. I like to think I’m a fairly young, fairly fit individual, yet I was able to turn myself by walking too much. Yes… walking. In any case, I think either one should make sure to take breaks or proceed more slowly than I did. At least I can just rest a few days the damage is healed, I think. Be careful since it could be something different or something more serious for some other people, especially those who are older. Darn this physical body and it’s limitations…
Day 245-255: I’ve recently set up a standing desk at work (I taped an old computer box to the top of my desk, then taped the monitors to the top of that). I’ve really upped the standing time each day, somewhat at the cost of walking time. That isn’t necessarily too bad though since I’m trying to work my way back into walking slowly because of my previous… “injury”. Still embarassing, but I believe it’s getting better.
Keywords: treadmill, desk, exercise desk, walking desk, walkstation, stand up desk, confidence power plus treadmill, weight loss, health, exercise, work
DISCLAIMER: This was a self done study and my results may differ from yours. Who knows, you might even gain weight. Point is, this is an N of 1, take it for what it is.