Exercise/Walking if you are Working from Home (WFH) or in Quarantine during the Covid-19 (Corona Virus) Pandemic

walking desk, threadmill desk for working from home with a computer

Getting some exercise or at least moving a bit can be helpful if you are Working from Home (WFH) or being indoor due to quarantine, one way can be to invest in a walking desk – here is a previous blog post I wrote a few years back about experiences using it, I have later moved the desk to my home office where I am working from now (alternating between sitting with my computer and walking from the walking desk). The walking desk I bought was LifeSpan TR1200-DT3 Treadmill Desk, you can find ways to buy it using a search engine.

Here is the repost of the blog post that I wrote back in 2015


Apple’s CEO Tim Cook described sitting as the new cancer, and using a treadmill desk is perhaps the easiest way of reducing the amount of sitting – at least in an office environment. As most novel technologies treadmill desks has the classic celebrity endorsement (Victoria Beckham), and is expected to become a unicorn billion dollar business as it enters the workplace.

In this blog post I will share setup, experiences (since February 2015) and thoughts about primarily using a treadmill desk as a Software Engineer in a startup.

1. My Threadmill Desk Office Setup

The table below describes my treadmill desk setup from the floor and up.

HardwareDescription
Floor Sound Insulation – Acoustiblok (3 mm thick) Treadmills can be noisy – both within the office and to office neighbours in the floor below in high-resonance buildings (e.g. old concrete buildings). Acoustiblok – a NASA spinnoff product – is perhaps the best sound insulation, recommend having a look at the demo video above.
Treadmill Protective Mat –  X-Erfit (6 mm thick) This protects the (rather expensive) Acousticbloc from being destroyed
LifeSpan TR1200-DT3 Standing Desk Treadmill The treadmill.
 LifeSpan TR1200-DT7 Standing Desk The motorized desk (for adjusting height) that has control panel for the treadmill
 Macbook Pro 15″ Computer Where all the Deep Learning and XCode/Swift/Metal magic happens (or is supposed to happen..)
 AOC U2868PQU 28″ UHD 4K 3840×2160 LED Monitor28 inch screen

LifeSpan TR1200-DT5 Treadmill Desk

2. Experiences using a treadmill desk
Being the self-appointed lab rat of a small software engineering team, and curious about treadmill desks we bought a LifeSpan TR1200-DT7 Desktop Treadmill (perhaps the first of several) in February 2015. As opposed to its faster siblings –  treadmills found at gyms – desk treadmills have a way more soothing speed level. The typical desk treadmill speed is between 0.7 to 3 km/hour (roughly approx. 0.4 – 2 miles/hour), so a relatively slow walking pace, but infinitely faster than sitting on an office chair. I believe a good analogy is that Tai Chi or slow-paced Yoga would be equivalent to the the desk treadmill, and treadmills at gym would be more like Kung Fu or Rocket Yoga.

The table below describes various tasks I do and how it fits or not fit doing on the treadmill desk (subjectively speaking):

TaskDescription
Regular CodingWriting code and tests (Python, Swift/Metal and the occasional shell script) works nicely on the treadmill desk in 80-90% of the cases (see algorithmic coding for the remaining 10-20%). Optimal speed for this task is around 2.0 km/hour
Algorithmic Coding and ThinkingIf I’m at full concentration working on heavy algorithmic stuff (i.e. working at or close to my mental capacity :), I prefer to not do that on the treadmill desk and rather use the office sofa. Not sure why this is the case, but believe it might be 2 reasons: 1) simultaneous capacity being stretched (both walking and thinking very hard), 2) thinking very hard creates a lot of energy – and heat – and walking in addition creates even more energy.I think best with a whiteboard in near proximity, and haven’t found a good solution to combining the treadmill desk with whiteboard so far (believe there is room for production innovation here)
WritingWriting emails, documents, papers, blog posts and various administrative tasks works usually nicely on the treadmill desk. Optimal speed for this task is around 2.0 km/hour
Discussing with team matesBrief discussions works with team mates (who – for now – sits at regular desks) works nicely while I’m on the treadmill desk, but I prefer to slow down the speed a bit (perhaps to 0.7-1 km/hour). For longer discussions I prefer to sit down at my regular desk (which is still there).
Skype, Phone and other MeetingsSkype and Phone (without Video Conference part) or equivalent I can do at slow pace (0.7-1 km/hour) on the treadmill desk, but usually I prefer to do them offmill (is that a new term?)

3. The future of treadmill desk for Software Engineers

Believe there is tons of innovation and product opportunities related to treadmill desks (e.g. combine it with whiteboards).

oculusrift2

On the visual experience – perhaps replacing the screen -side virtual reality related technologies such as Microsoft HoloLens or Facebook’s Oculus Rift can become an interesting combination with treadmill desks (perhaps making Star Trek holodecks a reality).

Given the rapid advances in Deep Learning for Speech Recognition on might even get rid of the keyboard (and the desk!) eventually, even though I believe using speech recognition for coding is still a bit cumbersome (but Tavis Rudd shows some impressive coding by voice in the video above).

Conclusion

Given my highly positive experiences using a treadmill desk as a Software Engineer, I’m pretty sure that this will become a default part of an engineer’s office rig in the near future. Since I also enjoy being a software engineer lab rat related to treadmill desks, I more than happy to try out gear that can enhance the experience, so feel free to contact me if you have ideas or gears in that direction!

Best regards,

Amund

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