I started using a treadmill under my desk August 21st 2015. Today, January 6th 2016, I did my 1.000.000th step at the end of my working day. (or 425 kilometers in 45 days - yes I have been travelling much)
I wrote about my first impressions of using the treadmill, and since then I have really been loving it. I’d like to use this opportunity to give you my impressions one million steps in. :-)
First of all: I’m being at least as productive working while walking on a treadmill as I was before. I believe I’m being more productive, but if that is because of the treadmill, better tooling, better architecture or what is hard to say.
My ambition was 15.000 steps a day, but my daily average is about 23.000 steps a day, and that is a little less than 10km a day. I’ve settled in to a speed of around 3.5 km/hour, but I vary from 2.8 km/hour to 4.5 km/hour. So you can already guess my biggest surprise, it is that I don’t get more hours walking than I do. Apart from obvious stuff like bathroom- and coffee-breaks, I stop the treadmill often while debugging, while having meetings and while talking on the phone. Then I stand on the treadmill instead. I haven’t lowered my desk to sit since the end of August.
I used to be very happy to work from home, so if the weather was bad and I didn’t have a specific reason for being in the office, I would just work from home. Since getting the treadmill, it is not that I make a point of going to work, but I actually really want to get to work so I get to use the treadmill there. I’ve switched jobs in this period, and this want to get in has been the same in both places.
My iPhone still doesn’t get all the steps I take since it’s on my desk and my Apple Watch is on my wrist and my wrist is resting on the desk. So my move metrics are often way below what they actually have been. This sucks, but I have stopped caring as much. I hope a good solution will present itself, preferably as an integration from the treadmill software. The included Lifespan treadmill software is still rubbish.
The treadmill is just as loud as it used to be, even after being lubricated well. However, I’ve found just how much difference the office can make to the sound. I used to think my former office wasn’t that resonant, but now that I’m in a larger office, the treadmill doesn’t sound as bad, even though the treadmill itself hasn’t changed.
While I did get a bit sweaty when I began using the treadmill, I don’t find I do that anymore. I attribute this to it being winter now and I started using it in the summer, we’ll see if half a years time.
I’ve become a big advocate for the treadmill, and I really do think it is one of the best things I’ve done for my work life. If you are nearby Tarp, come by and try it and see how you like it.
It’s now been four working days since the treadmill arrived, and it’s time to go through my first impressions.
This treadmill is heavy! Delivery didn’t go as smooth as I had expected, the delivery guy placed it in front of the wrong side of the building and never called me to ask where to deliver it, so I had to carry it through the building and up some stairs together with a co-worker. That was some real exercise! But on the other hand, that also means it is very, very stable. I have not have it move accidentally even a millimeter.
I do use it almost all the time. And it took no time getting used to working this way, even though I had expected it would take some getting used to. I find it easy to focus and consentrate on the task at hand. It does make it more obvious to me those little breaks I take when getting water, coffee, or going to the bathroom, because I have to pause it first.
The treadmill comes with a dashboard that should be mounted under the desk, close to my belly. I found that weird, and even though that means I can’t use the safety release strap, I have placed it on my desk, just in arms reach. With an average speed of 2.6 km/h I think I’ll be fine safety-wise. :-)
I had set a goal of 15.000 steps a day. I thought that was ambitious, but I find I should be able to up that to 21.000 steps a day. My goal of 12 km a day is still a stretch goal. In actual fact I’ve been going more like 7 km/day. So that reveals two insights: I take smaller steps when walking on the treadmill than when I walk outside. And, I don’t get 6 hours of walking a day. I haven’t yet figured out where the rest of the time goes, and I expect to get back to that later.
I was not prepared for how loud this treadmill is. It is really noisy when I walk on it. Noisy enough to annoy my collegues. So I’m better at closing my door, and if I forget or need to get fresh air in, they will close theirs. I find I can ignore it quickly enough, but I’m not sure if this will be a problem long-term. However, this is not a good thing for close cooperation.
A treadmill is also really not good for pair programming, even when it’s turned off. It’s in the way. This can be solved easily enough by using the other persons computer, but that just means that not everyone can use a treadmill, or there will have to be treadmill-free zones where we can bring laptops to pair. More frustrating is when I quickly want to show something to a collegue. It’s like asking them up on a podium, and I’ll quickly climb down to let them have the space. But it’s absolutely odd. Also, when someone comes in to chat I prefer to climb down to be at an even level as the other - the extra height of the treadmill really makes it feel like you’re standing on a podium.
What I did not expect is that I build up a little bit of a sweat. But hey, it’s still early days and I’m experimenting with finding a speed that is comfortable - not to slow but not something that’ll make me sweat either.
The only basic treadmill functionality I was very surprised not to find, was walking at an angle. I wanted to set it to a 10 degrees climb, thus walking uphill. When I couldn’t find out how I should set that, I contacted my supplier, who told me that it could not do this. As far as I understand, tilting it manually is not recommended and could reduce its lifespan. So no climbs or descents for me, even though I have never seen a treadmill that does not provide this.
So apart from being limited to a 0 degrees climb, the basic treadmill functionality is good, and I’m happy with it. I must say that I really enjoy using it, and look forward to coming to the office, and going for a walk. The main drawback, apart from the noise that makes me isolate myself a bit, is all the bad puns I come up with during the day.
Now, what I’m not happy with is the extra-functionality that it provides: Bluetooth pedometer. I hit Bluetooth pairing and asked my iPhone to pair with it. The iPhone said no thank you! Really!? I mean, this is 2015, it is a really expensive device, and its makers haven’t bothered either getting the MFi certification for it, or adding BLE to it and have it comply with a basic service such as the pedometer service? That is crazy! So what they want me to do is pair the treadmill with my Mac, download and run a separate application that will take the input and upload it to a “customer club”. It duplicates some basic stats that the treadmill display are already showing, and for more basic information (such as how long have I been using the treadmill for today? How many steps have I made? What distance have I walked?) I have to press a button to be taken to a website. I don’t want a website. I want the information to be captured and entered into my Health app, the Health app that has come together with every iPhone for quite a while now, and where all my other health related information from my iPhone, from the BLE heartrate monitor and my Apple Watch are gathered. But alas, all LifeSpan can tell me is that an app is coming later this year. I asked my vendor if that means the console will have to be updated, since it doesn’t pair with my iPhone, but he assured me that it will work with my existing console. I wonder how that’ll work, and will be sure to write a review after it has arrived.
But this issue with the Health app integration has me wondering - how does it work when multiple sources track the same data? I already wear my Apple Watch, and it tracks my steps. So does my iPhone when it’s in my pocket, and I’m sure they coordinate fine. But when I’m on the treadmill, my hands are resting on the desk and my iPhone is connected to my Mac on the desk. So the only thing tracking my steps is the treadmill. That is, until there is something I need to read. As a developer, I read an awful lot during the day. Especially code. And for that I may fold my arms, leading the Apple Watch to start tracking my steps. Now there are two sources tracking my steps. How would they figure out when they overlap? I don’t want to say that during office hours, only use the data from the treadmill, because I’d like to count the steps to and from the coffee machine as well. So how these would integrate, or how it already now integrates with all kinds of devices that count steps, is a mystery to me at the moment.
Settings on the treadmill are horrible. I knew I could go into settings to turn of the beeping when I press a button and to have it start at the speed I had last set it to. But settings was a set of options that were called F001 to F021. More than half of them were undocumented, and some options were 0 or 1, in the case of setting it to English or Metric, they were En or Si. What is Si? But the four out of 21 settings that were documented in the manual were fine: I got to turn off anoying beeping sound, set it to metric, make it remember the last speed I entered and don’t bother about the safety pin I didn’t see the reason for. I have no idea why all of this was not default. After I set it the first day, though, I did not have to set anything again.
In conclusion, I love the walking - much more than I expected I would. I look forward to walking tomorrow. The first day, I walked 15.000 steps and got used to the mode of work almost right away. I feel I’m doing something good for my body and for my health. And that is awesome, especially since I do it while getting my job done at least just as good as I used to. Cooperation around my desk will be affected, but I can work around that. And I’m hoping that lubricating the belt with a silicone spray as the manual suggests will reduce much of the noise. And finally, I can’t wait for an app that will integrate with the Health app.
I’m a developer. I write software all day, except for when I do my role as scrum master. Then I talk on Skype or write text documents and emails. But most of the time I read and write code. In front of a computer. That is on a desk. In an office. Almost every working day. All day. And I’m actually very happy about it.
However, this is not great for my health. Sitting all day in front of a desk. So I gave up sitting nine months ago and have been standing at my desk since then. However, standing all that time isn’t great either. It’s better, but not great. So I was ready to take the next step: to walk in front of my desk.
Yes, walk. I had heard a lot about this at conferences and read blog posts about it. Yes, I realize replacing one monotonous posture with another isn’t solving everything, but it’s a step, right? And it sounds very interesting, so I ordered a two-week trial today, with the intent of buying an under-the-desk treadmill. This post is my thoughts before trying it out.
There have been a lot of in-betweens, of course. For many years I’ve raised my desk and stood a while and then sat a while. I’ve had issues with my arms when I was younger and had a physiotherapist guide me to good sitting positions where I rest my arms. However, I’m getting older, and my back is noticing this more and more, leading to me using a chiropractor. That’s been quite good, really.
Where I’m at today is that the standing has become harder on my heels and my knees. So I’ve bought shoes that I hoped would relieve part of the stress, and then higher heels when I noticed that I really was standing wrong. I was standing too much on my heels. So I fully expect to have to do the transition gradual, and perhaps need to mix in some sitting again. Just so as not to over-do it, and to let my current aches heal.
I’m wearing an Apple Watch, and my daily average active energy is 717 calories, including 8,7 km walking/running distance and 9.947 steps. My goal, without doing too much research in how feasible this is, is to add 15.000 steps by walking 6 hours a day at 2km per hour, after having used the treadmill for two weeks. I honestly do not know if this is a too ambitious or too low goal. We’ll see.
Also, my goal is to keep using the treadmill for three years. I’m sure the move goals will change once I get settled into the routine, but being committed to this kind of working sounds good to me. Things I will not regard as breaking my plan is walk-and-talk meetings, travel days when visiting customers, and attending conferences. Also I have no plans to change my weekends and holidays, since this should already be impacting the majority of my days. But it’ll be interesting to see if there will be some spillover effects.