Trek Desk Review: A Great Way to Reduce Sitting Time

I take great pride in the fact that I exercise regularly, but my pride got knocked down a few notches when recent research showed that prolonged sitting time, even among very physically active people (>7 hours of moderate exercise a week), is associated with increased risk for all cause mortality (Matthews et al 2012).  Ugh.  I sit a lot.  I work at the computer all day, writing grant after grant and paper after paper, email after email.  I blog, I surf the net, I read.  You name it.  All in front of my computer!  I’m embarrassed to even report the number of hours a day I sit (add 4 to whatever number you were thinking).  For some reason I figured if my sitting time was productive then how could it be a health risk?  That is silly thinking on my part because it is the act of sitting itself that is harmful and it doesn’t matter if it is in front of Seinfeld reruns or important business, either way, it is an unhealthy habit.

I decided to do something about this sedentary and unhealthy aspect of my lifestyle because I’m very concerned that I’m sacrificing some of the health benefits of my exercise.  Enter the Trek Desk.  The Trek Desk is a desk that can be set up to any treadmill, allowing you to use a computer and engage in any desk work while walking on the treadmill.  Unlike other treadmill desks, the treadmill is not attached to the desk, the Trek Desk is simply a desk in which the shape and height is designed to be used with a treadmill. I really liked this concept better than the treadmills with built-in desks because I have had a treadmill at home for a long time and do not have a need (or space) for a second treadmill.  I have been using the Trek Desk for a few weeks and wanted to share with you my reflections on the experience.

1.  EASY.  I was nervous about how easy it would be to do computing while on a treadmill, but I was pleasantly surprised that it is quite easy and comfortable.  I recommend a slow speed (no more than 2 mph) and to use it in intervals (hop on for an hour at a time, taking breaks in between) as opposed to several hours at a time.  I have yet to find an activity that I cannot do on the computer while I’m treading.  You end up getting lost in your computer activity and then become pleasantly surprised to find you’ve covered a mile all while blasting through emails!  Now that’s multi-tasking!

2. ADDS LOTS OF MILEAGE TO THE WEEK.  I use the Trek Desk when working at home and when doing non-work activities on the computer and have found that each time I hop on I walk at least 1 mile or so.  I have gotten up to 4 or more miles a day, all while working.  Having the Trek Desk has allowed me to sneak in up to 10-12 miles of walking in the week that I would never ever have done otherwise. Because the walking is slow, it doesn’t feel exhausting or anything like the same mileage would feel if I were working out.

3.  VERSATILE.  The desk is easily movable when you want to use the treadmill for more intensive walking or running.  I just scoot it out of the way for a workout, then scoot it back when I want to work. It was also pretty easy to set up, a task I managed to do by myself—and I assure you, setting up furniture is nowhere on my list of personal talents.

4. BUT I CAN’T FIT THAT MONSTROSITY IN MY OFFICE AT WORK.  This is true for me as well and was a huge barrier to purchasing the Trek Desk.  However, I realized that I spend a great deal of time on the computer at home in the evenings and on weekends.  Over the next week, track how much time you spend on the computer at home. If you spend 1-2 hours on most nights, you will definitely be able to log some mileage and the Trek Desk will be worth the investment. Keep in mind you can also use it to watch movies and shows on your computer, so think of all the many ways you can use your computer, and these are all the ways you can use the Trek Desk to put some extra mileage in your day.

5.  CONFESSION. I have not only had a snack or two on my ‘mill, I have gone so far as to indulge in a glass of wine (THAT is how steady the desk is!) all while walking along, surfing the net, etc.   However, in spite of such occasional indulgences, I find that generally I am less likely to snack while working on the treadmill than while I’m working at my desk or other locations.

The Trek Desk is one of many ways to break up your sitting time.  I challenge you to consider a few ways that you can break up your sitting time. Exercises like planks (check out #PlankADay), pushups, or squats are easy ones that you can work into a short break at work.  If you have some good ideas for breaking up your sitting time, please share in a comment.

P.S. I walked a mile while writing this post.

 

References

Matthews, CM et al (2012).  Amount of time spent in sedentary activities and cause-specific mortality in US adults.  American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 95(2), 437-445.

Disclosure:  I have no conflicts of interest (financial or personal) with Trek Desk or related companies.

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8 Comments

  1. Thanks for this post. It’s nice to get a review of this from a “real” person ;) .

    Reply
  2. katie says:

    Hey Sherry,
    Do you have any ideas for how someone (perhaps a starving graduate student… heh heh) could incorporate this idea if she isn’t able to invest in the trek desk? :) I was thinking sitting on a stability ball might be better than nothing because it at least engages some muscles but I’m wondering about other possible modifications. Maybe one day I’ll be in the position to get one of these, but I don’t want my productivity to kill me in the meatime! o.O

    Reply
    • Sherry says:

      Hi Katie. If you need cheap exercise equipment I recommend Craigslist. Lots of people sell their hardly used equipment at far less than retail prices. If you or someone you know is handy you may be able to construct a makeshift desk around your treadmill. There are also cheaper devices that allow you to pedal while sitting at a desk (the device fits under your desk). Even standing while working is better than sitting so if you had a high enough surface to put your computer on, that could work too. Otherwise, you might plan to take scheduled breaks from your desk time, or plan to do phone-related tasks while walking. The dangerous part of sitting time is that it is prolonged and uninterrupted so even 5 minute breaks that get you on your feet can do the trick. It is very tough when you are tied to a desk and computer all day!

      Reply
  3. i want one!!!!! so bad!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  4. Hi Sherry! I just commented on your more recent Treadmill Desk post, so I won’t repeat my thanks for these important ideas here, I’d just like to make one interesting note:

    “P.S. I walked a mile while writing this post.”

    I love the idea of counting the distance you walked while making a post! (The only catch for me is I tend to take so long messing around with them, I’d be embarrassed by the length! :P

    It really is a nice idea to note it both for yourself and your readers. And in my own noodle-on-a-post-forever writing style, it might have the added time management benefit of encouraging me to get my ideas out and move on!

    TY!

    Reply

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