Productivity + fitness

Treadmill desk a workstation 'walkstation'

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Do you feel like you are working on a treadmill?

Jay Buster does -- and he lost 16 pounds in the first four months because of it.

Mr. Buster, a trader in futures and derivatives, who works out of his garage in Boulder, Colo., installed a treadmill desk after reading about James Levine at the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis who came up with the idea.

Mr. Buster accumulated his extra weight after he moved from the trading floor in Chicago, where he was always standing and jumping and waving his arms, to a desk in Boulder.

It's not like he was a coach potato. He had joined a masters swimming program, regularly putting in two miles at the pool, but still, over a period of 10 years, when he tried to lose 10 pounds, he gained five instead.

The treadmill seemed like the perfect solution.

Between May 26, 2007, and Feb. 18, 2009, while working in his office, he logged enough miles (about five or six a day) to walk from New York City to the beach at Santa Monica, Calif.

His weight loss while figuratively crossing the continent was 20 pounds, which put him below his goal weight.

Now that recent news has confirmed what we all thought -- sitting at work is a contributor to the widening of our loads -- the treadmill desk seems even smarter.

There are many manufacturers of treadmill desks. Steelcase, the office furniture manufacturer makes a "walkstation," a desk that is integrated into a treadmill and designed to hold a computer with wings for papers or knickknacks. The cost is about $5,000. The TrekDesk Treadmill desk fits over a standard treadmill.

Other than the treadmill Mr. Buster bought off of Craigslist, the rest of the desk he built himself putting styrofoam across the handles of the treadmill to raise the height and then attaching a board on top of the styrofoam. The desk holds two monitors, a keyboard and a mouse.

He walks at about one mile an hour, which is a little more than one step a second. The pace is fast enough to walk more than five miles a day. At that slow a speed, the treadmill is about as loud as a fan.

Working at the treadmill takes a day or so to get used to, he said. "Then after a while, five miles goes by and you're like, 'Oh, I wasn't aware of it.'"

While he kept track of the amount he walked while he was on his virtual cross country trip, blogging his distance and putting place markers on Google Maps every month, he stopped when he was done because he figured the blog answered any questions people would have.

So what was he doing the afternoon that the newspaper called?

Sitting.

He had put in two miles in the pool with his masters swim team before work, then, "I walked for four or five hours today," he said. "That's enough."


Ann Belser: abelser@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1699.


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