Getting More Mileage Out of Your Writing Time: The Magic of the Treadmill Desk

You know those days when the words just pour onto the page and when you finally look up from your keyboard you’re startled to discover that two hours have flown by? How awesome would it be if you rejoined reality to discover you’d not only written thousands of words, you’d also walked several miles?

This, my friends, is the magic of the treadmill desk.

A couple of years ago YA author Stacey Jay posted a vlog about her treadmill desk and I was seriously intrigued by the concept. But I had a few concerns.

Treadmills are not cheap. How was I going to afford one? It wasn’t until my husband pointed out that my annual gym membership costs about the same as a treadmill desk that the idea began to make sense financially. And when I found a company that offered a six month payment plan with no interest, the cost suddenly seemed manageable.

Treadmills are not small. Where was I going to put this behemoth? I’m lucky enough to have a dedicated office where I write but there was no way a treadmill desk would fit the current configuration. The standing height of a treadmill desk made it too high to place in front of the window without blocking most of the view, and all of the other walls were covered by bookshelves. Turns out all I had to do was turn the treadmill sideways. The raised desk sits in front of one of my bookshelves but I can still reach any book I need.

Would I have to wear workout clothes when I write? And how many showers a day would I need? I was more curious than concerned so this one wasn’t a deal breaker. Which is good because the answer is yes, I do wear workout clothes when I write because I do get sweaty, but I probably wouldn’t sweat so much if I slowed down. I like to walk at about 2.5 miles per hour. This seems to be my zen speed- any slower and I notice I’m walking. Having a ceiling fan in the room helps but after a couple of hours of writing I’m definitely ready for a shower.

Should I go for a package deal from a place like LifeSpan or go the DIY route and find a cheap treadmill on Craigslist and build a desk to go with it? I read tons of reviews and DIY articles. I wanted something road-tested and well-reviewed and knew I would only be using my treadmill for walking while writing so I ended up buying a treadmill desk from LifeSpan (they also have a video of John Green on their site, which might have swayed me a little). 

I’ve been using my treadmill desk for about a month now and I’m madly in love. I never have as much time as I’d like to dedicate to both writing and exercise, but being able to combine those hours = GENIUS! 

I don’t have any trouble typing while walking, but mousing is another story. I use a trackball mouse so I don’t have to move my arm, but it can still take me a few attempts to click what I’m after.

I have my laptop screen raised up to eye level, which means I need to use a separate keyboard. Before I started using my treadmill desk I had one of those split design ergonomic keyboards with a built in wrist rest, but since my treadmill desk also included a wrist rest, I had to lean over too far to reach the keys. I’ve been using a small wireless keyboard instead and so far, so good.

I can currently walk and write for about two hours at a time before I need a break. I’m not sure how many hours I’ll be able to write in a day if I ever have the luxury of writing until I can’t walk any more. On the advice of another treadmill desk user, I recently bought a tall barstool that I can set on the treadmill if I need to sit down. But where’s the magic in that?

P.S. Yes, I did write this blogpost while walking on my treadmill!


...I've just wasted 20 minutes trying to think up a clever pun about joining you in the walk, but it's not working. So: this sounds really cool, and I'm going to be thinking of how to wrangle a treadmill into my writing room!

Part of me is saying GENIUS. The other part is wondering how it's possible lol. This means that I will be attempting to set this up and try it for myself! It would be the perfect solution!

I fear I would procrastinate forever if I had to write and walk, and I can't imagine typing at the keyboard. Yet, I too, am intrigued...

That is amazing. I like to listen to music when I walk and daydream. So, I'm not sure combining walking and writing will work - but I think if I had a treadmill in my office, I could walk, dream and then write. The only problem is I'll have to remove the exercise bar contraption I paid about $300 for - oh, what - 10 years ago! It's been used one. I could just see my husband's face if I said I wanted to buy a treadmill! I love the theme of talking about our work spaces!

YES!!! The treadmill desk details! I'm so fascinated by this. Unfortunately it's not an option in our apartment right now – space issues, and I'm not certain treadmills are even allowed in our building, since we have neighbors on all sides of us. But down the road I'd love to have one!

You're welcome to give mine a test run. I mean, walk :).

If you can type with a St. Bernard in your lap, you can type on a treadmill. Probably.

You could sell the bar contraption and use it as a downpayment? :)
I like to listen to a few songs (from the playlist for my novel) when I first step on the treadmill. It's a great warm-up for writing and walking!

I hope you get the chance to try one out! You're welcome to try mine next time you make it to California!

Multitasking + Aaron = Injured Aaron :)Walking and typing at the same time would not be a good idea for me, but for those that can do it...bonus!!

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